Sei sulla pagina 1di 168

DAL DIRITTO ROMANO AL DIRITTO EUROPEO

FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA

1. Il tema, così indicato, vuole avere nei nostri giorni un significato


diverso di quanto non abbia avuto in passato.
Nel secolo scorso si intendeva collocare, in questa delineazione di per-
corso, almeno due mete. La prima era quella di ricostruire la seconda vita
del diritto romano, dopo la scomparsa della società e dello Stato dei roma-
ni, dall’Europa medievale a quella delle codificazioni moderne;1 la seconda
di valutare quanto del diritto romano fosse ulteriormente sopravvissuto nei
codici e nella scienza giuridica contemporanea, tanto da giustificarne lo
studio ai fini della educazione odierna dei giuristi.2
2. Per restare per ora nel quadro temporale del Novecento, occorre spe-
cificare che a seconda dell’una o dell’altra finalità venivano in gioco due
diverse metodologie. Una storiografica, e una dogmatica. Entrambe si con-
tendevano il campo nello studio del diritto romano antico in funzione del-
le due diagnosi contrapposte, essere cioè il diritto romano un diritto mor-
to, e dunque destinato ad essere oggetto di una scienza storica, o un dirit-
to ancora attuale, e perciò materia di una scienza giuridica.3

1
v. P. Vinogradoff, Roman Law in medieval Europe, 2nd ed. by F. De Zuletta, 1929
(trad. it. S. Riccobono, Milano, Giuffrè, 1950).
2
v. S. Di Marzo, Le basi romanistiche del Codice civile, Torino, UTET, 1950; F.P. Casa-
vola, Francesco Calasso: diritto romano e diritto comune, in Index. Quaderni camerti di stu-
di romanistici, 28 (2000), pp. 79-88 (= Sententia Legum tra mondo antico e moderno, vol. II,
Napoli, Jovene Editore, 2004, pp. 487-496).
3
v. F. Casavola, Storiografia o dogmatica?, in Labeo, 3, Napoli, Jovene Editore, 1956,
pp. 336-340 [= F.P. Casavola, Sententia Legum cit., vol. II, 2001, pp. 51-55; F. Casavola,
Diritto romano, scienza giuridica e formazione del giurista, in Panorami. Riflessioni, discus-
sioni e proposte sul diritto e l’amministrazione, Edis-Calabria, 1 (1989), pp. 3-12 (= F.P.
Casavola, Sententia Legum cit., vol. II, pp. 221-230)]. È utile richiamare qui, dei miei stu-
di, La ricerca delle interpolazioni, in Archivio giuridico, 144 (1953), pp. 145-149 (= Senten-
tia Legum cit., II, pp. 71-91); Jhering su Savigny, in Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pen-
190 FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA

3. Quanto al diritto romano, proveniente dall’antichità ed entrato nella


storia europea, lo studio è stato condotto in una prima fase da medievalisti
e in tempi relativamente recenti da modernisti. L’interesse dominante è
andato su una storia cosiddetta esterna, delle fonti, dei giuristi, delle dot-
trine. Salvo che per i lineamenti degli istituti fondamentali del diritto civi-
le, il diritto romano come corpo di norme non ha avuto osservatori che ne
cogliessero i mutamenti, richiedendo questa attitudine la competenza pro-
pria dei romanisti. Sicché l’immensa biblioteca lasciata dagli scrittori del
diritto comune non è stata esplorata dall’interno della esperienza giuridica
delle società europee ma dall’approccio esterno delle questioni dottrinali.
4. La critica dei riformatori illuministi, che deploravano di essere cir-
condati da libri, ma senza leggi, perché il controversismo dei dottori ave-
va eliminato la certezza del diritto, fu la prima causa del passaggio dal
diritto comune alle codificazioni.4 La seconda, non meno potente, fu la
formazione degli Stati nazionali nel clima della civiltà liberale. In questi
si voleva realizzato lo Stato di diritto nel modello di Montesquieu, con i
tre poteri indipendenti, legislativo, esecutivo e giudiziario. Il sovrano
assoluto di ancien régime doveva cedere dinanzi al nuovo luogo della
sovranità, cioè alla legge. E legge non poteva essere la massa caotica del
diritto romano comune. Il Codice Frederic del 1750 restò un esperimento
della nuova istanza. Il Code Napoléon del 1804, dopo una lunga gestazio-
ne, fu il primo corpo organico di norme che, cancellando la stratificazio-
ne storificata del diritto comune, richiamava a sue fonti la natura e la
ragione. Mentre i codici francesi entravano in vigore, oltre che in Francia,
nei paesi d’Europa egemonizzati dai francesi, altri Stati si davano propri
codici. La eccezione al generale impianto della codificazione fu rappre-
sentata dalla Germania. Qui Federico Carlo di Savigny difese il diritto
romano dalla tendenza alla codificazione propugnata dal Thibaut. Ma era

siero giuridico moderno, 9 (1980), pp. 507-514 (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 153-160); Bre-
ve appunto ragionato su profili romanistici italiani, in Sodalitas. Scritti in onore di Antonio
Guarino, 8 (1984), pp. 4133-4148 (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 181-196); I diritti antichi,
in La cultura storica italiana tra Otto e Novecento, Napoli, Morano, 1990, pp. 51-73 (= Sen-
tentia Legum cit., II, pp. 249-271); Il diritto romano nella scuola liceale, in Il latino nella
scuola secondaria, Brescia, Editrice La Scuola, 1990, pp. 275-286; L’insegnamento romani-
stico nel Novecento, in Index, 22 (1994), pp. 585-589 (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 361-
365); Storia del diritto romano come insegnamento e come genere letterario, in Index, 23
(1995), pp. 341-345 (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 397-401); La romanistica a Napoli dal-
l’Unità alla Guerra, in Index, 29 (2001), pp. 1-18; (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 543-560).
4
v. F.P. Casavola, L’educazione del giurista tra memoria e ragione, in Index, 19 (1991),
pp. 319-381 (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 299-311).
DAL DIRITTO ROMANO AL DIRITTO EUROPEO 191

il diritto romano elaborato nel System des heutigen römischen Rechts, il


prodotto di una Rechtswissenschaft, di una scienza giuridica moderna che
usava materiali della compilazione di Giustiniano.
Il Pandektenrecht tenne il campo in Germania fino a che il 1° gennaio
del 1900 non entrò in vigore il Codice Civile dell’Impero tedesco, il BGB.
5. Da allora il diritto romano è sparito dalla scena legislativa e giudi-
ziaria in Europa, guadagnandosi uno spazio soltanto accademico. Gli stu-
diosi di diritto comparato classificano romano-germanico il sistema di civil
law continentale, e anglosassone o anglo-normanno quello di common law
esistente nelle isole britanniche e in Nord America. Ma se si vuole insegui-
re lo spirito del diritto romano, esso è più rintracciabile nel common law
che nel civil law. Quanto al corpus normativo giustinianeo non si può non
constatare che esso appare essersi dissolto nelle costruzioni dei codici. Il
termine tradizione romanistica sul confine dell’età dei codici si scioglie in
due frange: una è quella della formazione culturale dei giuristi nella quale
la conoscenza del diritto romano, nei due composti, del diritto comune e
della pandettistica, ha certo un grande spazio; l’altra è l’utilizzazione di
materiali normativi che rivelano il loro conio nelle fonti romane.
6. Va, ai nostri fini, ribadito il carattere nazionale dei codici, in consa-
pevole voluto contrasto con l’applicazione transnazionale del ius commune.
Lo Stato nazione vuole segnare una cesura rispetto ad una fase storica, che
aveva esaltato una comune identità giuridica dei popoli europei, in cui
sovrani, tribunali e giuristi ricevevano e applicavano il diritto romano a
sostituzione o integrazione dei diritti locali, considerandolo manifestazio-
ne di una civiltà superiore e universale, rispetto a quelle autoctone.
A mano a mano che i sovrani furono riconosciuti come fonti e interpreti
del diritto, la rappresentazione culturale, nelle due forme della storicità e
della razionalità, andò arretrando dinanzi ad una concezione politica e sta-
tuale del diritto. Nella raggiunta fusione di statualità e nazionalità la esclu-
sione dell’orizzonte europeo divenne il dogma del diritto codificato. Non a
caso la Juristenzeitung salutò l’entrata in vigore del BGB con il motto “Ein
Staat, ein Volk, ein Recht” (uno Stato, un popolo, un diritto).
Se si vuole misurare la portata di questa rivoluzione concettuale, oltre che
ordinamentale, si ricordi lo scandalizzato stupore di una professore dell’Im-
perialregia Facoltà giuridico-politica di Padova, nel precedente secolo XIX,
dinanzi alla ipotesi che potessero darsi tanti diritti quanti sono gli Stati.
7. Nel XVII secolo il cardinale Giambattista De Luca guardava da giu-
rista l’Europa chiamandola il nostro mondo, orbis civilis nostrae Europae
communicationis.
192 FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA

Ancora nel successivo XVIII secolo Edmund Burke poteva affermare


che in qualunque parte d’Europa si viaggiasse non ci si sentiva mai del tut-
to fuori della propria patria. Nel XIX secolo la diffusione della codificazio-
ne napoleonica insieme con la lingua e la cultura dei francesi dava un ulti-
mo colore omogeneo all’Europa continentale.5
Nel XX secolo, il binomio “razza e diritto”, come ricorda Paul Koschaker,
soprattutto nell’uso politico che ne fece il nazionalsocialismo, frantumò quel
che restava di un comune passato europeo. Germanesimo e romanesimo
diventavano gli antagonisti ideologici del diritto nuovo rispetto a quello della
vecchia Europa. Con gli esiti paradossali che Koschaker descrive: da un lato
una “inaudita fioritura” dello studio accademico del diritto romano, dall’altro
la germanizzazione universale del diritto privato anche nell’area anglo-ame-
ricana e in quella francese. Quanto all’Italia, il codice fascista del 1942 “che
voleva rappresentare la romanità, è in qualche punto più germanico del dirit-
to privato dei tedeschi, alfieri del germanesimo”.6
8. L’Europa comincia a riapparire negli ultimi anni della transizione tra
ventesimo e ventunesimo secolo su due quadranti: quello accademico del-
lo studio dei fondamenti del diritto europeo e quello di un diritto prodotto
da organi dell’Unione Europea.
Peter Stein e John Shand,7 uno storico ed un pratico, muovendo dall’e-
sperienza del common law e affacciandosi da essa sulla cosiddetta “civiltà
occidentale” danno conto di “valori” come legge e ordine, giustizia, legge
giusta e decisione giusta, individualismo e responsabilità, libertà persona-
le, il valore della vita, il diritto alla riservatezza, la proprietà, il contratto,
concorrenza e conflitti d’interesse economico. Per “fondamenti” Stein
intende istituti consolidati, processuali e sostanziali, che attraversano dirit-
to romano e diritto moderno, common law e civil law, società senza Stato
e società assorbite nello Stato. Da questo ultimo punto di vista, interessan-
te è notare la non equivalenza di Rechtsstaat e rule of law, espressioni comu-
nemente intese come Stato di diritto. La prima vale ad indicare quella fase
moderna dello Stato costituzionale che si sottomette al diritto, la seconda è
l’emblema di una società senza Stato che crea il suo diritto limitando il
potere corrispondente dello Stato di produrre diritto.

5
v. F. Casavola, La parabola della comparazione giuridica nell’Italia del Risorgimento,
prefazione a M.T. Napoli, La cultura giuridica europea in Italia, Napoli, Jovene Editore,
1987, pp. V-XIII (= Sententia Legum cit., II, pp. 207-217).
6
P. Koschaker, L’Europa e il diritto romano, Sansoni, Firenze, 1962, p. 244.
7
P. Stein, J. Shand, I valori giuridici della civiltà occidentale, Giuffrè, Milano, 1981; P.
Stein, I fondamenti del diritto europeo, Giuffrè, Milano, 1995.
DAL DIRITTO ROMANO AL DIRITTO EUROPEO 193

Che cosa significhino le opere di questi due studiosi ai fini della fonda-
zione di una educazione accademica al diritto europeo è difficile dire. La
tradizione inglese della jurisprudence, che abbraccia filosofia, sociologia,
etnologia, comparazione e storia giuridica può servire ad una introduzione
enciclopedica agli studi di diritto, ma certo non a presentare esperienze sto-
riografiche o dogmatiche utili ad intendere e guidare il compito attuale dei
giuristi in Europa.
Del resto l’incontro di studio tenutosi nell’Università di Ferrara il 27 feb-
braio dello scorso anno 2004 su “Fondamenti del diritto europeo”, inse-
gnamento introdotto in Italia nelle Scuole di specializzazione per le profes-
sioni legali nel 1999 e collocato nell’area disciplinare del Diritto romano e
dei diritti dell’Antichità, ha dimostrato, qualora ce ne fosse stato bisogno,
l’eterogeneità e l’incertezza delle opinioni dei romanisti intervenuti, sui
metodi, gli obiettivi, i temi di una tale materia di studio.8
La attribuzione sua al settore romanistico e antichistico postula quel
salto acrobatico cui si obbligavano i romanisti per trasvolare dal VI secolo
di Giustiniano al XX secolo dei codici di pretesa ispirazione romanistica.9
9. Il carattere ideologico di una siffatta impostazione è evidente. A
meno che non si voglia cadere nella ingenua cavalcata di millenni dei pro-
grammi universitari francesi, che tendono un unico filo tra il Codice di
Hammurabi e il Code Napoléon, l’idea che il diritto europeo abbia radici che
possano essere esplorate da romanisti e antichisti prescinde del tutto dal-
l’accertamento di che cosa si intenda oggi per diritto europeo.
Se si vuole superare la nozione puramente geografica dell’Europa è uti-
le interrogare la sequenza Impero Romano, Sacro Romano Impero, Respu-
blica Christiana, Ius Commune, République des Lettrés. Politica, religione,
diritto e cultura intellettuale sono stati con dominanze successive forze di
unificazione dell’Europa. Con i nazionalismi del XIX e XX secolo la iden-
tità europea si è sgretolata. L’Europa che nasce dopo il secondo conflitto
mondiale, per impedire guerre tra Stati europei, non è in continuità con
nessuna delle fasi di tendenziale unità europea susseguitesi nella storia del
continente. Dunque è improprio usare chiavi interpretative di ripristino o

8
Cfr. L. Piro, Sui fondamenti del diritto europeo, in Index, 32 (2004), pp. 652-655; L.
Capogrossi-Colognesi, I fondamenti storici di un diritto comune europeo, in Index, 30
(2002), pp. 163-182; Id., Riflessioni su “I fondamenti del diritto europeo”: una occasione da
non sprecare, in IVRA, 51 (2003), pp. 1-27.
9
F. Casavola, Diritto romano e diritto europeo, in Labeo, 40 (1994), pp. 161-169 (= Sen-
tentia Legum cit., II, pp. 367-377).
194 FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA

di evoluzione di valori provenienti dal passato. La costruzione dell’Europa


odierna è dettata dalla esigenza di comporre interessi economici perché
non nascano da squilibrate risorse cause di conflitti interstatali. L’ordina-
mento comunitario è geneticamente una lex mercatoria prodotta e monito-
rata da organi che ripetono la loro investitura da accordi intergovernativi.
Dunque il diritto che possiamo chiamare europeo è per la logica e le cate-
gorie concettuali impiegate un diritto internazionale e non ancora costitu-
zionale in senso pieno, malgrado il trattato costituente del giugno 2004. È
un diritto il più estraneo possibile alla tradizione romanistica così come ai
sistemi delle codificazioni nazionali. Non a caso il diritto comunitario è sta-
ta materia di competenza degli internazionalisti.
L’uscita dalla logica internazionalistica si intravede ora con il trattato
costituente che avvia un processo di unificazione costituzionale di un sog-
getto-Europa, tuttavia anomalo rispetto al modello dello Stato-nazionale.
Quanto al diritto europeo che nascerà, dopo la Costituzione del 2004,
finalmente da leggi-quadro e leggi ordinarie del potere colegislativo del
Parlamento e del Consiglio, e non consterà più soltanto, come è stato
finora, di regolamenti e direttive, esso, entrando nei diritti nazionali, pre-
sumibilmente e auspicabilmente senza meccanismi di recezione, modifi-
cherà i sistemi delle fonti entro gli ordinamenti degli Stati membri. Inol-
tre, a seconda dei principî e delle norme e delle materie regolate, si porrà
la questione dell’armonizzazione o della uniformazione dei diritti interni.
Quello sarà il momento in cui reagiranno le particolarità delle tradizioni
degli ordinamenti nazionali. Cessioni di sovranità dei singoli Stati verso
l’Unione appartengono alla strategia di calcolo degli interessi politici, ma
unificare o armonizzare diritti di famiglia, di successione, di proprietà, di
obbligazioni, sistemi processuali e quant’altro riguardi la vita di una
società prodotta dalla storia e non da un atto di volontà, richiederà una
lunga e travagliata elaborazione. Preparare giuristi per questo avvenire
significa educarli al compito di fondatori di un nuovo diritto che sarà
europeo se corrisponderà ad una società europea e ad una soggettività
costituzionale europea.
10. Se nella formazione accademica di questi giuristi entrerà il diritto
romano, occorrerà tenere ben distinto il diritto dei romani dalla tradizione
romanistica, così come gioverà comparare civil law e common law per il
diverso gioco che hanno avuto nell’uno e nell’altro società e Stato. Gram-
matica e vocabolario potranno echeggiare il lascito romano ma non var-
ranno a fare del futuro diritto europeo una ennesima metempsicosi roma-
nistica. E le ragioni sono almeno le seguenti.
DAL DIRITTO ROMANO AL DIRITTO EUROPEO 195

Il diritto romano antico nasce in una società di padri che hanno in


loro potere mogli, figli, schiavi, animali, terra. Malgrado l’analisi dei giu-
risti del principato sugli status, che conduce a distinguere nella condizio-
ne delle persone libertà e schiavitù, cittadinanza e posizione familiare,
malgrado l’influenza dello stoicismo e poi del cristianesimo nella ricerca
della individualità umana e che Ermogeniano, in età dioclezianea, scriva
omne ius hominum causa constitutum (D. 1.5.2), per il diritto romano il
soggetto giuridico resta il pater dominus. La tradizione romanistica
accentua l’attributo della proprietà, trasmettendola alle codificazioni. La
proprietà droit sacré nel Code Napoléon sta a indicare il nesso che la stes-
sa civiltà liberale convalida tra libertà e proprietà. Tradizione romanisti-
ca e dottrine giusnaturalistiche confluiscono nel costruire l’immagine del-
l’uomo che trasferendosi dallo stato di natura allo stato di società porta
con sé libertà della persona e proprietà di beni, chiedendone garanzia al
potere pubblico. Oggi, dopo la Dichiarazione universale del 196810 e l’art.
1 c. 1 della Grundgesetz della Germania Federale del 1949, è la dignità del-
l’uomo l’essenziale identità dell’essere della persona. Come tale intangibi-
le. La dignità dell’uomo non si manifesta in posizioni sociali od economi-
che, consistendo nella dotazione di ragione e coscienza di cui è fornito
ogni vivente della specie umana.
11. La famiglia romana è stata interpretata come organismo o politico
o economico, un piccolo Stato precittadino o un’azienda. È una comunità
di sudditi sotto il potere assoluto del padre. La struttura potestativa della
famiglia romana ha avuto una lunga sopravvivenza in Europa, ma oggi è
del tutto scomparsa. La famiglia del nostro tempo è una comunità parita-
ria, cui la costituzione italiana riconosce diritti “come società naturale fon-
data sul matrimonio” (art. 29 c. 1).11
Se un problema grava sulla famiglia odierna è quello che il suo involu-
cro giuridico conservi e garantisca la società naturale e non rivesta società
artificiali, non fondate sul matrimonio e non preordinate alla procreazione
e umanizzazione delle generazioni.12

10
F.P. Casavola, La dichiarazione universale: piccoli diritti, grandi parole, in Iter, Scuo-
la cultura società, II, 4 (1999), pp. 19-27 (= Sententia Legum cit., III, pp. 493-497).
11
F.P. Casavola, La famiglia dalla identificazione nel ‘pater familias’ alla società natura-
le, in Atti del “VII Colloquio giuridico”, Pontificia Università Lateranense 1986, Roma
1987, pp. 27-37 (= Sententia Legum cit., III, p. 43 e ss).
12
F.P. Casavola, Tecniche di riproduzione artificiale. Proposte legislative e valori costitu-
zionali, in Materiali per una storia della cultura giuridica fondati da Giovanni Tarello, XXVI,
1, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1996, pp. 167-179 (= Sententia Legum cit., III, pp. 309-321).
196 FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA

Il carattere di comunità di persone legate dal coniugio, dalla genitoria-


lità, filialità, fraternità e più latamente da parentela e affinità, ha esaltato
nel mondo moderno i vincoli affettivi al punto che alla famiglia del sangue
si affianca la famiglia degli affetti, come nell’adozione legittimante.
Ma soprattutto le funzioni economiche della famiglia connesse alla pro-
duzione preindustriale, di azienda agraria, artigiana, mercantile, o alla tra-
smissione di patrimonio avito o acquisito, sono marginali rispetto ai valori
personali delle relazioni endofamiliari. Queste peraltro non possono essere
lasciate alle determinazioni spontanee e arbitrarie dei singoli membri del-
la famiglia. Il principio ancora ribadito da A.C. Jemolo che la famiglia è
un’isola appena lambita dal mare del diritto, se mai ha rappresentato un
modello reale, e non un’aspirazione ideale, non corrisponde affatto alla
condizione attuale caratterizzata da norme e decisioni giudiziarie che
entrano nella vita quotidiana della comunità familiare, adeguandola alle
persuasioni dominanti nella società, tendenti a tutelare gli spazi di libertà
delle singole persone piuttosto che il gruppo, gli interessi dei più deboli, dei
minori, della donna se senza mezzi adeguati, dettando regole che correg-
gono comportamenti del gruppo.
Il diritto romano antico riconduceva proprietà e obbligazioni alla strut-
tura della famiglia perché l’universo economico, come il termine greco
esprime eloquentemente, congiungendo oikos e nomos, è l’ordinamento
domestico. Il mondo moderno, sempre più rapidamente evolvendosi in
opposta direzione, dopo la rivoluzione industriale, ha una economia pub-
blica i cui protagonisti sono individui, imprese, Stati in uno scenario glo-
balizzato i cui mercati valutano flussi finanziari più che lavoro e merci.
Nascono forme nuove di appartenenza e di relazioni contrattuali costruite
su prassi convenienti da professionisti consulenti di imprese, e ricevute da
fori elettivi internazionali, come ordinamento mercatorio universale.
È difficile immaginare che l’Europa si sottragga a queste tensioni e ten-
denze per proporre agli Stati membri la composizione di codici europei
comuni. L’idea stessa di codice appartiene al passato di un legislatore capa-
ce, allo stesso tempo imperio rationis e ratione imperii, di ordinare una
società soggetta alla propria sovranità e racchiusa entro le frontiere politi-
che dello Stato-nazione. L’ordinamento codificato era un sistema di norme,
ispirato a coerenza logica e a certezza del diritto, da applicare ai cittadini-
sudditi di uno Stato sovrano. In qualche modo era un fotogramma del rap-
porto tra una società e il suo Stato. La evoluzione dei rapporti sociali,
soprattutto per i movimenti di emancipazione delle donne e dei giovani, la
evoluzione dell’organizzazione del lavoro e della produzione, la diffusione
DAL DIRITTO ROMANO AL DIRITTO EUROPEO 197

e poi le mutazioni del welfare-State, la internazionalizzazione e poi la finan-


ziarizzazione dell’economia hanno vulnerato le grandi geometrie dei codi-
ci. Crisi del codice significa non solo la integrazione-sostituzione sua con
sottosistemi di leggi speciali, ma crescita di un diritto prodotto dalla inter-
pretazione dei giudici e di una dottrina, che all’alba delle codificazioni
ambiva di fare l’esegesi del codice in Francia, o la esplicitazione dogmatica
del codice in Germania e in Italia, e che nel tramonto delle codificazioni
tenta di guidare un diritto sempre più tendente a complicarsi nelle anoma-
lie del case-law, che non a semplificarsi nelle fattispecie ipotetiche e gene-
rali della legge. Verso quali forme si muove il diritto contemporaneo? Da un
canto, gli organi chiamati alla produzione normativa, dai governi e parla-
menti alle autorità amministrative, danno luogo a quantità sterminate di
precetti, sanzioni, regole procedurali. Dall’altro, queste norme anziché esse-
re obbedite vengono impugnate dinanzi alle giurisdizioni, costituzionale, di
nomofilachia, amministrativa. Sicché nasce un diritto giurisprudenziale
ancora più incontinente di quello legiferato. E d’altra parte che il diritto
interpretato abbia maggior valore di quello dettato dal legislatore è reso
manifesto dalla categoria del cosiddetto “diritto vivente”, che la Corte Costi-
tuzionale italiana identifica nelle pronunce delle supreme giurisdizioni
ordinaria e amministrativa. E dato che può verificarsi e si è verificato dis-
senso tra l’una e l’altra, la Corte Costituzionale ha dovuto far cadere la pre-
sunzione di conoscenza della legge penale da parte del cittadino espressa
nel brocardo ignorantia legis non excusat.
Le forme storiche del civil-law legiferato e del common law giudiziale si
vanno avvicinando: la prima, come si è visto, assumendo aspetti di case-law
giurisprudenziale, la seconda affiancando al judge made law un crescente e
invasivo statute-law. Il futuro riproporrà l’esigenza ciclica di un riordino, se
non di una diversa fondazione razionale del diritto.
Il romanista può allineare le esperienze della codificazione decemvira-
le, dei progetti codificatori di Pompeo e di Cesare, della codificazione teo-
dosiana e giustinianea.13
Gli storici dei diritti nazionali ricorderanno l’età dei codici in ognuno
degli Stati europei. Ma il futuro propone un contesto non confrontabile con

13
Alcuni richiami nei miei studi: Cicerone e Giulio Cesare tra democrazia e diritto, in
Questioni di giurisprudenza tardo-repubblicana, Milano, Giuffrè, 1985, pp. 281-292 (= Sen-
tentia Legum cit., I, p. 201-212); Verso la codificazione traverso la Compilazione, in La codi-
ficazione del diritto dall’antico al moderno, Napoli, Editoriale scientifica, 1998, pp. 303-311
(= Sententia Legum cit., I, p. 237-245).
198 FRANCESCO PAOLO CASAVOLA

le esperienze del passato. Se andrà proseguendo il processo di unificazione


costituzionale dell’Europa, si ragionerà sempre meno in termini di diritti
nazionali e più in termini di diritto europeo.
12. L’Europa ha incorporato nella parte II del Trattato costituente del
2004 la Carta dei diritti fondamentali proclamata a Nizza nel 2000. Sarà ine-
vitabile che per una esigenza di eguale tutela dei diritti per tutti i cittadini
europei si imporrà un coordinamento tra le giurisdizioni costituzionali
nazionali e le due corti europee di Strasburgo e del Lussemburgo sia per la
legittimazione all’accesso sia per le regole processuali.
E parimenti i giudici comuni chiamati a conoscere un contenzioso in
materia di diritti fondamentali non potranno non risalire dalle carte nazio-
nali alla carta costituzionale europea.
Sui diritti fondamentali sarà edificato il nuovo diritto europeo.14 Ognu-
no dei cinque titoli della carta dei diritti, dignità, libertà, uguaglianza, soli-
darietà, cittadinanza, giustizia, offre nell’articolazione dei suoi contenuti
quadri di settore dell’ordinamento europeo che tagliano trasversalmente le
partizioni sistematiche ereditate dal diritto romano e dai codici nazionali.
Le stesse distinzioni classiche di diritto privato e diritto pubblico si
confondono in una visione costituzionalistica che assume come sistema
l’ordine gerarchico dei diritti fondamentali. La rappresentazione olistica
del diritto di origine romana, l’omne ius gaiano, che si conservava stabile
per una indefinita durata temporale, organizzando al suo interno personae,
res, actiones, vale a dire persona e famiglia, proprietà e diritti reali, obbli-
gazioni e contratti, successioni mortis causa e donazioni, processo privato,
secondo uno schema che si sarebbe tramandato nel diritto giustinianeo, in
quello canonico, nel ius commune, nella pandettistica e nei codici moder-
ni, non ha più il suo perimetro. La realtà sociale ed economica muta e il
diritto muta con essa in un intreccio di interessi pubblici e privati quale non
si è mai verificato nei due millenni trascorsi.
La civiltà liberale si illudeva ancora all’alba del Code Napoléon che il
diritto si dividesse in due sfere: al sovrano l’impero, al cittadino la proprietà.
I codici stanno tramontando anche perché tra quei territori del diritto dello
Stato e del diritto dei privati la storia ha rimosso i segnali di confine.

14
Sui diritti v. tra i miei studi: Fondamento giuridico dei diritti umani, in Orientamen-
ti sociali, 1989, pp. 28-88 (= Sententia Legum cit., II, p. 79-89); Eredità rivoluzionaria e fede
cristiana: l’impegno per i diritti dell’uomo, in Giornata internazionale dei diritti umani, Pado-
va 10 dic. 1992, pp. 3-17 (= Sententia Legum cit., III, pp. 143-157); Garanzie costituzionali
e diritti fondamentali: la lezione del passato, in Garanzie costituzionali e diritti fondamenta-
li, Roma, Ist. Enc. Ital., 1997, pp. 3-6 (= Sententia Legum cit., III, pp. 259-262); I diritti uma-
ni, in Univ. di Padova, Centro di studi e di formazione sui diritti dell’uomo e dei popoli, 12,
Padova, Cedam, 1997, pp. 1-48 (= Sententia Legum cit., III, p. 347-382).
DAL DIRITTO ROMANO AL DIRITTO EUROPEO 199

Il diritto europeo non è il diritto dei privati unico per il continente euro-
peo, quale è stato il ius commune. È il diritto prodotto dagli organi dell’U-
nione europea e che passa negli ordinamenti nazionali. Esso è per il conte-
nuto normativo una lex mercatoria che oggi sale dal mondo dell’economia
a quello dei diritti fondamentali. Dunque ha tal forza da pervadere i più tra-
dizionali sistemi degli ordinamenti degli Stati membri, che stanno già per
processi endogeni e sulla base delle proprie carte costituzionali controllan-
do e adeguando leggi e codici non più sul criterio della logica formale di
sistema, cioè sulla dogmatica, ma sui parametri costituzionali.
La convergenza delle linee evolutive, di regole e di valori, degli ordina-
menti nazionali, con il nascente e crescente diritto dell’Unione sarà l’ap-
puntamento storico della nuova Europa.
COMMENTO ALLA RELAZIONE DEL PROF. CASAVOLA

OMBRETTA FUMAGALLI CARULLI

Il Prof. Casavola, oltre ad essere illustre Maestro del diritto romano pre-
stato felicemente per lungo tempo alla Corte costituzionale italiana, è intel-
lettuale di cultura poliedrica, come dimostrano i suoi innumerevoli saggi,
tanto da presiedere oggi l’Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.
Sono molte le riflessioni che la sua relazione suscita in me, studiosa del
diritto canonico ed ecclesiastico prestata per vent’anni alle istituzioni dello
Stato italiano (prima al Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura e poi in Par-
lamento e al Governo italiano).
La storia ha voluto che romanisti e canonisti compissero molta strada
insieme nella costruzione di quello ius commune, che ha consentito di
governare per secoli l’Europa, costituendone l’ossatura normativa. È per-
tanto una felice occasione che a noi sia affidato il compito di guardare con
gli occhiali delle nostre esperienze alla Costituzione europea, oggi oggetto
di ratifica nei vari Paesi.

1. I mutamenti dello spirito giuridico europeo

Dalla storia vorrei anch’io iniziare per ricordare come lo spirito giuri-
dico in Europa abbia avuto cambiamenti radicali in conseguenza della
affermazione della sovranità dei singoli Stati già nel passaggio tra sei e set-
tecento, ma soprattutto nell’ottocento.
A partire dal sec. XIX gli ordinamenti del continente europeo passano,
infatti, dal regime pluralistico del diritto comune, fortemente caratterizza-
to in senso giurisprudenziale, a quello unitario e “legale” di diritto codifi-
cato. L’utrumque ius, che attraverso il diritto canonico conserva un riferi-
mento al diritto naturale cristiano, è per sempre abbandonato come disci-
plina giuridica delle genti europee.
Prende insomma il sopravvento la fiducia in una codificazione come
orizzonte definito e chiuso di una organizzazione giuridica, che rompe defi-
COMMENTO ALLA RELAZIONE DEL PROF. CASAVOLA 201

nitivamente ogni legame con il trascendente. Il Code civil napoleonico del


1804, richiamando a sue fonti la natura e la ragione, diviene il modello di
altre codificazioni (del Codice austriaco del 1811, italiano del 1865, tedesco
del 1900, svizzero del 1907).
La relazione di Casavola mette bene in evidenza che, se ancora nel seco-
lo XIX la diffusione della codificazione napoleonica e della lingua e cultu-
ra francese forniscono l’ultimo colore omogeneo all’Europa continentale,
nel XX secolo il binomio razza e diritto frantuma ogni residuo di un comu-
ne passato con la germanizzazione universale del diritto privato. Lo spirito
giuridico, insomma, muta profondamente.
Proseguendo sul cammino di questo mutamento, a me pare significativo
ricordare come, con l’avvento degli Stati democratici del XX secolo, gli orro-
ri prodotti dalla seconda guerra mondiale abbiano provocato ulteriori muta-
menti dello spirito giuridico europeo, indirizzando le riflessioni intorno ad
una duplice esigenza: porre i diritti inviolabili della persona come prioritari
rispetto a qualunque potere statale ed abbandonare il dogma che solo l’ordi-
namento dello Stato debba disciplinare la vita dei rispettivi cittadini. Di qui
l’impostazione personalistica e pluralistica delle Costituzioni nate dalle cene-
ri del conflitto bellico, che non solo ripudiano il formalismo positivistico, pro-
prio all’età delle codificazioni, ma riconducono l’ordinamento giuridico ad
una fondazione ultima di ordine etico: la dignità della persona.
In questo scenario operano politici cristiani per una nuova Europa: Ade-
nauer, Schumann, De Gasperi. Essi sottolineano l’apporto della civiltà cri-
stiana, ma in senso non confessionale. Parlano “di un retaggio europeo
comune, della morale unitaria che esalta la figura e la responsabilità della
persona umana, con il suo fermento di fraternità evangelica, con la sua
volontà di verità e giustizia acuita da una esperienza millenaria” (sono paro-
le di De Gasperi alla Conferenza parlamentare europea del 21 aprile 1954).
Non è dunque più la Respublica Christiana ad essere auspicata. Ma è
comunque sempre una società ispirata a quei valori della persona, della
libertà, del pluralismo che sono apporto laico del pensiero cristiano.
A porre la prima pietra fondativa della nuova Europa sono 6 Paesi (Ita-
lia, Belgio, Francia, Germania, Lussemburgo, Olanda) con la firma il 25
marzo 1957 a Roma dei Trattati istitutivi della Comunità economica euro-
pea (CEE) e della Comunità europea per l’energia atomica (Euratom). Pas-
seranno anni perché il percorso di integrazione vada oltre la realizzazione
di un mercato o di una moneta unici per creare una comunità di diritto
basata sul rispetto dei diritti fondamentali. Si giunge solo nel 2000 alla tap-
pa più significativa in vista di “un futuro di pace fondato su valori comuni”:
202 OMBRETTA FUMAGALLI CARULLI

la Carta dei Diritti Fondamentali della Unione Europea, tra i quali primeg-
gia la dignità umana (“La dignità umana è inviolabile. Essa deve essere
rispettata e tutelata”, afferma l’art. 1).
Lo spirito politico cambia: l’ampio processo di secolarizzazione porta
ad accentuare la radice laica dei diritti umani ed a porre in ombra quella
cristiana.
Cambia anche lo spirito giuridico, che accompagna negli anni a noi più
vicini il processo di integrazione europea, dal Trattato di Maastricht (1992),
a quello di Amsterdam (1997), alla Carta dei diritti (2000), al Trattato di
Roma (29 ottobre 2004) “che istituisce una Costituzione per l’Europa”
(comunemente indicato come Costituzione europea).
Al nuovo spirito europeo romanisti e canonisti guardano con interesse:
non tanto perché essi considerino il nuovo diritto europeo una riedizione del
vecchio diritto comune, ma perché da un lato la cessione di sovranità stata-
le, che esso comporta, dall’altro il ruolo della giurisprudenza, dall’altro anco-
ra l’impianto personalistico evocano alcune particolarità dell’antico sistema
di diritto comune, pur non potendo essere qualificate una riedizione di esso.

2. Le radici romane e cristiane della Costituzione europea

Nel contesto ora tratteggiato va inserita la recente Costituzione euro-


pea: è frutto maturo del matrimonio tra il diritto internazionale ed il vec-
chio costituzionalismo o è inizio di un nuovo percorso? A me pare ci sia un
poco dell’uno ed un poco dell’altro.
Per comprendere la dimensione personalista della Costituzione euro-
pea – così da rispondere alla tematica della nostra Sessione, cioè alla con-
cettualizzazione della persona umana – è utile partire dal richiamo del
Preambolo alle comuni “eredità culturali religiose ed umanistiche”.
Non starò ora a riprendere le molte polemiche da esso suscitate. Mi
limito invece a ricordare che un testo preparatorio (poi non accolto), nel
motivare il richiamo all’eredità dell’Europa, specificava che essa è “alimen-
tata innanzitutto dalla civiltà greco-romana, poi dalla filosofia dei lumi, che
hanno ancorato nella società la percezione del ruolo centrale della persona
umana e del rispetto del diritto”. Non riportava invece alcun riferimento al
cristianesimo, cioè all’asse portante spirituale, sul quale l’Europa si è svi-
luppata. Sollevava pertanto le proteste delle Chiese cristiane, non meno
vibranti di quelle precedentemente elevate da esse quanto al generico
richiamo al “patrimonio spirituale e morale”, contenuto nel Preambolo del-
la Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’Unione europea del 2000.
COMMENTO ALLA RELAZIONE DEL PROF. CASAVOLA 203

Il testo definitivo ha cercato di rimediare, ma la mediazione politica ha gio-


cato per così dire al ribasso. Ha tolto il riferimento esclusivo ai soli due appor-
ti dati dalla civiltà greco-romana e dalla filosofia dei lumi ed ha citato generi-
camente le “eredità culturali, religiose ed umanistiche”, includendo dunque il
riferimento all’eredità religiosa del tutto assente nel testo precedente.
Spetta oggi all’interprete passare dalla dizione generica a quella più spe-
cifica. Se alle eredità culturali ed umanistiche sono riconducibili l’eredità
greco-romana e quella illuministica, all’eredità religiosa è riconducibile l’e-
redità cristiana. Un fatto storico, che nessun pregiudizio ideologico può
negare, si impone di per sé. Né può essere reso sterile dal mancato accogli-
mento nel testo definitivo di emendamenti esplicitamente qualificanti l’ere-
dità religiosa come cristiana o giudaico-cristiana (l’ultimo dei quali, pre-
sentato nella discussione immediatamente precedente il Consiglio europeo
di Salonicco, proponeva di inserire, subito dopo il richiamo alle “eredità
religiose”, l’espressione “specialmente cristiane”).
Sul piano più propriamente giuridico il collegamento tra le radici cul-
turali e religiose ed il patrimonio di principi giuridici concretizzatisi sul
continente europeo conduce sia alla tradizione romanistica che alla tradi-
zione canonistica.
Se il diritto romano oggi non è più applicato, mentre il diritto canoni-
co lo continua ad essere e per giunta in tutto il mondo, lo spirito di entram-
bi è sempre operante. A differenza dei tempi storici dello ius commune,
diritto romano e diritto canonico, in parte convergono ed in parte divergo-
no nella influenza sul nuovo spirito europeo.
Le convergenze riguardano più gli schemi consolidati della tecnica giu-
ridica che i singoli istituti nei loro contenuti sostanziali, i quali, del resto,
corrispondono agli specifici valori fondativi e finalistici propri ad ogni ordi-
namento.
L’esempio del concetto di famiglia, fatto dal Prof. Casavola, lo dimostra.
Dalle stesse categorie giuridico-formali nascono modelli assai differenti tra
loro, che presuppongono una diversa dialettica tra l’istituto e la persona e
perciò una diversa priorità nella tutela dell’uno o dell’altra.
Dalla famiglia romana dell’età antica a quella della età classica a quella
del diritto giustinianeo, a quella della “Respublica christiana”, a quella
disciplinata dalle varie codificazioni degli Stati occidentali, a quella che le
nostre Costituzioni fondano sul matrimonio, a quella che interpretazioni
secolarizzate impongono in singoli paesi in netta contrapposizione con la
famiglia che nasce dal matrimonio, vi è una continuità-discontinuità tale
da rendere difficile la ricognizione di tracce della comune eredità e che tut-
204 OMBRETTA FUMAGALLI CARULLI

tavia consente sempre di parlare di modelli occidentali tra loro connessi.


Sono d’accordo con il Prof. Casavola: filo comune non è certamente la
strutturazione interna della famiglia, fortemente gerarchica nel diritto
romano e paritaria nei diritti degli Stati contemporanei, come – mi per-
metto di aggiungere – nel diritto della Chiesa.
Ma mi domando se un filo comune non possa comunque essere rinve-
nuto. Personalmente lo riscontro nel ruolo sociale della famiglia, a sua vol-
ta proiezione della dimensione sociale della persona, che diritto romano e
diritto canonico portano come contributo di civiltà, sia pure partendo da
premesse e ricavando conseguenze diverse. Sotto questo profilo a non esse-
re in linea è l’altra radice del diritto europeo, quella illuministica, che muo-
ve da presupposti solo individualistici.
Un ruolo sociale, per giunta, risponde a quella sussidiarietà che il dirit-
to europeo sembra volere garantire.

3. Influenze romanistiche e canonistiche sul ruolo della giurisprudenza

Altro comune effetto della radice romana e di quella cristiana sull’albe-


ro del diritto europeo è quello di innestarlo nel dato giurisprudenziale.
In più passaggi della sua relazione il Prof. Casavola ricorda l’importan-
za della giurisprudenza nella evoluzione del diritto romano. Mi permetto
aggiungere che il mito della codificazione che, per gli ordinamenti degli
Stati europei continentali, ha trovato nel Code Napoléon il modello storico,
non ha avuto applicazione nell’ordinamento canonico, se non nella impo-
stazione sistematica del primo Codex iuris canonici, che, essendo stato pub-
blicato nel 1917, ha risentito del clima proprio alla età delle codificazioni.
Nonostante, infatti, la legge della Chiesa sia imperniata su una codifi-
cazione (la prima di impostazione romanistica del 1917 e la seconda, oggi
vigente, del 1983 ripartita su una sistematica attenta al “mistero della Chie-
sa”), la “probata doctrina” e la “giurisprudenza e prassi della Curia Roma-
na” sono per antica tradizione fonti integrative dell’ordinamento. Lo sono
non perché – come avviene nei sistemi di codificazione rigida – l’interprete
o il giudice usurpino in modo illecito funzioni di legislatore, ma perché è la
legge ad affidare loro questo compito evolutivo. Supremo criterio interpre-
tativo, inoltre, è l’aequitas canonica, dove l’aggettivo denota le caratteristi-
che di misericordia proprie alla natura della Chiesa e della sua disciplina
giuridica, contro il rigor iuris. La differenza con l’aequitas romana, come
con l’equità inglese, sta nei differenti fini metagiuridici, la Chiesa dovendo
tendere in ogni suo aspetto, diritto compreso, alla salus animarum. Ma
COMMENTO ALLA RELAZIONE DEL PROF. CASAVOLA 205

entrambe le forme di equità – romana e canonica – realizzano la giustizia


del caso concreto, scostandosi dalla legalità codificata; si avvicinano dun-
que alla equità inglese, conferendo al principio della certezza del diritto un
significato ed un ruolo del tutto diversi da quelli propri agli ordinamenti
degli Stati continentali.
La dialettica tra dimensione legale e dimensione giurisprudenziale nel-
l’esperienza del diritto sarà probabilmente l’eredità insieme romanistica e
canonistica più influente, anche se oggi poco avvertita dagli studiosi, sulla
costruzione del diritto europeo.
Via via che si allarga l’area dell’integrazione europea, da lex mercatoria –
come sinora è stato – a tutela dei diritti fondamentali della persona, alla uni-
ficazione costituzionale del soggetto-Europa, il diritto europeo si consolida
grazie alla giurisprudenza delle due Corti di Strasburgo e di Lussemburgo,
come grazie a prassi affermate in fori elettivi internazionali o grazie alla
influenza ed applicazione di Convenzioni internazionali. La globalizzazione
alla fine detta le regole, aprendo lo stesso ordinamento europeo al confron-
to con altri ordinamenti e determinando, se mai non fosse già così per altri
fattori, il definitivo tramonto del mito della codificazione.
Tutto è rimesso in discussione, compresi gli schemi che vedevano i due
grandi sistemi, continentale ed anglosassone, seguire vie divaricate. Su ciò
concordo con la relazione di Casavola: i sistemi di civil law si stanno avvici-
nando a quelli di common law (caratterizzanti in Europa le isole britanni-
che), grazie alla crescente importanza assunta anche nei sistemi continen-
tali dal diritto giurisprudenziale, con un ruolo forte delle Corti costituziona-
li e delle loro sentenze “additive”; d’altro canto i sistemi di common law
affiancano al judge made law uno statute law una volta del tutto marginale.
Il diritto europeo può essere l’occasione per fare di questo avvicina-
mento un nuovo modo di impostare le relazioni giuridiche nell’interesse
della persona umana. La duttilità che la giurisprudenza presenta rispetto al
testo scritto sarà preziosa.

4. I diritti fondamentali della persona: la sfida con la tradizione islamica

Se il ruolo della giurisprudenza è stato sinora importante, esso conti-


nuerà ad esserlo anche nella materia dei diritti fondamentali della persona,
garantiti in modo generale nella Carta dei diritti.
Essi attendono di essere oggi dettagliati con una opera interpretativa
molto complessa: che non solo deve coniugare insieme il dettato costitu-
zionale europeo con le tradizioni costituzionali dei Paesi membri, ma, nel
206 OMBRETTA FUMAGALLI CARULLI

fare ciò, deve pure tenere presenti le tre radici, culturali, religiose ed uma-
nistiche menzionate nel Preambolo della Costituzione.
È questa una indicazione testuale dello stesso Preambolo, così formu-
lato: “Ispirandosi alle eredità culturali, religiose e umanistiche dell’Europa,
i cui valori, sempre presenti nel suo patrimonio, hanno ancorato nella vita
della società la percezione del ruolo centrale della persona, dei suoi diritti
inviolabili e inalienabili e del rispetto del diritto”.
Sono dunque i valori delle tre eredità che non solo conducono alla cen-
tralità della persona e dei suoi diritti, come cuore dei diritti fondamentali
della Unione europea, ma impongono anche di definirne meglio la sua con-
cettualizzazione, conferendo più specifici significati alle cinque categorie
generali indicate dalla Carta del 2000 (oggi parte seconda della Costituzio-
ne): dignità, libertà, uguaglianza, solidarietà, cittadinanza. Mutuando una
categoria dogmatica usata dal diritto internazionale, si potrebbe parlare al
proposito di ordine pubblico europeo.
Valori culturali, religiosi e umanistici insomma segnano un perimetro
intorno alla possibile area di tutela costituzionale di dignità, libertà, ugua-
glianza, solidarietà e cittadinanza, all’interno del quale non sembra possa-
no rientrare visioni della comunità politica in contrasto con quei valori.
Si inserisce qui uno dei temi più delicati del processo di unificazione
europea: il confronto con altre tradizioni ed il ruolo di esse, a cominciare
dall’Islam.
Anche a prescindere dalla effettiva consistenza di una radice islamica
d’Europa, i valori di certe tradizioni islamiche ben difficilmente si concilia-
no con quelli fondanti l’Unione Europa: si pensi ad esempio alla concezio-
ne teocratica dello Stato, contrastante con lo Stato di diritto, alla negazio-
ne dei diritti delle donne, ai diritti umani.
Lo stesso recepimento della Carta dei Diritti all’interno della Costituzio-
ne europea, come sua parte seconda, significa una riaffermazione della prio-
rità della persona umana rispetto alla comunità, che consente di rimarcare la
prospettiva differente rispetto alle impostazioni politico-culturali, per le qua-
li la comunità è prioritaria rispetto alla persona (come avviene nella visione
islamica): prospettiva personalistica della quale è parte integrante l’umanesi-
mo cristiano, risalente per giunta alla tradizione mosaica, non meno dell’u-
manesimo laico ripreso dall’illuminismo e dalla rivoluzione francese.
Il che peraltro non significa affatto negare diritti di libertà a culture lon-
tane dalla storia europea. La concezione personalistica europea dei diritti del-
l’uomo – al cuore della quale è la concezione dello straniero come fratello –
proprio perché è parametro di riconoscimento per i cittadini di Paesi terzi
COMMENTO ALLA RELAZIONE DEL PROF. CASAVOLA 207

dello statuto personale che li caratterizza, comporta che i diritti attribuiti alle
persone siano da considerarsi in linea di principio estesi a tutti i residenti
degli Stati membri, stranieri compresi. Tuttavia questa estensione ha una
limitazione o per meglio dire condizione: che lo statuto personale previsto nei
Paesi terzi non contrasti con i principi europei fissati nella Carta dei Diritti e
prima ancora nella Convenzione Europea dei Diritti dell’Uomo.
Due esempi possono chiarire quanto detto.
Se la visione personalistica europea vuole che sia assicurata completa
eguaglianza tra uomo e donna, è evidente che il riconoscimento dello sta-
tuto personale di cittadini di paesi islamici non potrà operare riguardo ad
uno straniero islamico, unito da un primo matrimonio celebrato nel suo
Paese d’origine, che voglia concludere nell’Unione un secondo matrimonio.
Un riconoscimento così esteso, infatti, concretizzerebbe una situazione
matrimoniale di tipo poligamico contrastante con i principi dell’Unione.
Ciò però non significa che un matrimonio islamico non possa essere posto
in essere nell’Unione, ma solo che esso può essere contratto a condizione
che costituisca il primo matrimonio.
La libertà di osservare le proprie regole religiose – questo il secondo
esempio – significa certamente consentire ai lavoratori provenienti da Pae-
si terzi di scegliere il giorno di riposo settimanale, esentandoli in quel gior-
no dallo svolgimento di prove concorsuali; ma nessun padre potrà chiede-
re alle istituzioni europee l’assistenza sanitaria per praticare l’infibulazione
della figlia minorenne, essendo questa contrastante con la concezione euro-
pea dei diritti dell’uomo.

5. Osservazioni finali

Il rapporto tra le istituzioni e le garanzie dei diritti fondamentali della


persona è il punto più critico e delicato del moderno costituzionalismo.
In Europa oggi sia la sovranità degli Stati nazionali sia la sovranità del-
la famiglia, di fatto e di diritto, sono in gran parte destrutturate. Il futuro
riposa sulla persona.
La Costituzione europea, nel porre la dignità della persona come prio-
ritaria rispetto alla comunità politica, è certamente la Carta più moderna.
Lo dimostra la procedura di “allarme precoce”: essa consente ad una mino-
ranza di bloccare al suo sorgere l’iniziativa legislativa, quando vi sia peri-
colo di lesione dei diritti fondamentali. I Parlamenti nazionali insomma
non sono più onnipotenti. Non potrà dunque più ripetersi la tragica vicen-
da del passato, quando (come afferma Giovanni Paolo II in una pagina di
208 OMBRETTA FUMAGALLI CARULLI

“Memoria ed identità”) “fu un Parlamento eletto ad acconsentire alla chia-


mata di Hitler al potere nella Germania degli anni Trenta; fu poi lo stesso
Reichstag, che con la delega dei pieni poteri a Hitler, gli aprì la strada...”.
Costruire intorno alla persona condizioni di sicurezza dei suoi diritti
fondamentali è la scommessa dell’odierna Europa.
Sarà un cammino non semplice. Esso avrà come parametri giuridici le
cinque categorie adottate dalla Costituzione europea, più volte sopra ricor-
date: dignità, libertà, eguaglianza, solidarietà, cittadinanza. Le radici cultu-
rali, religiose e umanistiche avranno influenza nel precisare il contenuto
concreto di ognuna di esse. Il dialogo con le Chiese – una delle novità della
Costituzione Europea, prevista dall’art. I-53 – spingerà a riempire i diritti
fondamentali della persona di contenuti di socialità, solidarietà e pace. Nel-
lo stesso tempo tentazioni vetero-illuministiche – agevolate anche dalla
discutibile equiparazione delle confessioni religiose con le associazioni filo-
sofiche (art. I-53) – potranno spingere verso interpretazioni soggettivistiche.
La speranza è che civil law e case law convergano non solo in garanzie
di tipo individualistico (come pare avvenga in U.S.A.), ma piuttosto in
garanzie della persona come soggetto sociale, quali la tradizione romana e
quella canonica hanno immesso nella cultura europea.
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM
AND ISLAM: IMPLICATIONS
FOR GOVERNANCE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

Introduction

It is only appropriate that the theme of this year’s conference is the


Conceptualization of the Human Person in the Social Sciences. In his life-
time, the Holy Father, John Paul II, had made the human person the cen-
ter of his apostolic mission. He championed human dignity, human rights,
social justice and the right to life.
This paper aims at examining the perspectives of two major religions in
Southeast Asia – Theravada Buddhism and Islam – on the nature of the
human person, and how such perspectives influence governance and poli-
tics in the region. In writing this paper, I find inspiration in the inaugural
sermon of our newly installed Holy Father, Benedict XVI, who assured fol-
lowers of other religions that ‘the Church wants to continue to weave an
open and sincere dialogue with them, in the search for the true good of the
human being and of society’.
First of all, it is necessary for us to clarify the use of the term ‘religion’
as used in this paper. We are not adopting the strict definition of religion
provided by Emile Durkheim: ‘a unified system of beliefs and practices rel-
ative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs
and practices which unite into one single moral community called a
Church, all those who adhere to them (Durkheim, 1965: 62)’.
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha proffered a philosophy and a way of life,
and did not found a Church as such. Islam, for its part, does not have a sin-
gle ‘Church’ that interprets its textual as well as its contextual doctrines. But
to the extent that both Buddhism and Islam have ‘a unified system of beliefs
and practices relative to sacred things’, we shall, for the purpose of this
paper, refer to them as religions.
210 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

The scope of our study includes the Southeast Asian countries that are
predominantly Theravada Buddhist and Muslim. The region of Southeast
Asia is composed of eleven countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand,
Timor Leste and Vietnam. All these countries, except Timor Leste, are mem-
bers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Four countries are predominantly Theravada Buddhist: Cambodia,
Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. Theravada (Thera: Elders; Vada: Doctrine)
Buddhism subscribes to the original teachings of the Buddha, which are
recorded in the Pali scriptures. Theravada Buddhism originated in India,
and its seat was Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, which is located in
South Asia. It is also known as Southern Buddhism.
Mahayana or Northern Buddhism arose out of a schism within the
ranks of Buddhist monastic leaders in the first century A.D. Mahayana
Buddhists refer to Theravada Buddhism as Hinayana (lesser vehicle)
Buddhism. The adherents of Mahayana (greater vehicle) Buddhism abound
in China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam and Singapore
and among ethnic Chinese minorities in Southeast Asia.
Three countries in Southeast Asia are predominantly Muslim: Brunei
Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Confucianism has a dominant influence
in Vietnam and Singapore. It is only the Philippines and Timor Leste that have
a Christian majority. Christian minorities are found in other Southeast Asian
countries, the most sizeable of whom are in Indonesia. There are Muslim
minorities in Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and
Myanmar, and Hindu minorities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Recent events have focused attention on the rise of ‘political Islam’ in
the region. Developments in Southern Thailand, Indonesia and Southern
Philippines have aroused interest in the role religious differences play in
domestic as well as cross-border politics. There have also arisen a few inci-
dents involving territorial disputes as well as political tensions among
neighboring countries. But the countries concerned have managed to con-
tain conflict situations.
Their being members of ASEAN is not a coincidence. A culture of peace
has prevailed in the ASEAN region, which has not witnessed an internecine
war since the end of the Vietnam War thirty years ago. Even when the issue
was bilateral in nature, ASEAN instruments for peaceful resolution of con-
flict, such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the
Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the Treaty
on the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone, and the Zone of
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 211

Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration have put in place international


norms and practices that have maintained peace and stability in the region.
The culturalist framework of analysis used in studying East Asian poli-
tics (Pye, 1985; Neher and Marlay, 1995; Vatikiotis, 1996; Jones, 1997)
asserts the dominance of traditional cultural values – which, in large meas-
ure, are derived from religious principles – in determining patterns of polit-
ical behavior and the structure of political institutions. Such patterns are
characterized as rigidly paternalistic, hierarchical and personalistic – qual-
ities that have a bearing on the pace and character of democratization and
the development of civil society.
Samuel Huntington claims that ‘virtually no tradition of human rights
against the state exists in East Asia; to the extent that individual rights are
recognized, they are viewed as rights created by the state (Huntington,
1993: 38-39)’. He finds that the maintenance of order and respect for hier-
archy are central values in the political culture, with harmony and cooper-
ation preferred over disagreement and competition.
Kishore Mahbubani (2004: 86) believes that there is no unified Asian
view on human rights: ‘Predictably, there is a whole range of reactions,
ranging from those who subscribe to these concepts in toto to those who
reject them completely... But in most Asian societies there is little aware-
ness, let alone understanding, of these concepts. The truth is that the vast
continent of Asia, preoccupied with more immediate challenges, has not
had the time or energy to address these issues squarely (Ibid.)’.
This paper does not agree with Huntington that East Asia has no tradi-
tion of human rights. Our discussion of Theravada Buddhism and Islam
will show that these two religions respect life, the value and dignity of
human persons, their individual rights as well as their universal equality.

1. THERAVADA BUDDHIST CONCEPT OF MAN

The primary reference for this section is Bhikkhu Kondaniya of the


Vajirarama Monastery in Sri Lanka. He was this author’s mentor on
Theravada Buddhism way back in 1969 and his explanations of its teach-
ings was this author’s main source material for his work on the social and
political prescriptions of Theravada Buddhism (Villacorta, 1973).
One must examine the Theravada Buddhist concept of the human per-
son in the context of its cosmology. Buddhism starts with the premise that
life is tied to samsara, the continuous and inescapable cycle of birth, death
212 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

and rebirth. Cosmic order is an intricate pattern of eternal alteration


between change and sameness, progression and regression. Every occur-
rence or being, therefore, is only a flash, an illusion. We must detach our-
selves from this illusory world (loka) because it is that which causes suffer-
ing. The Dhammapada quotes the Buddha as saying: ‘Come, look at this
world, glittering like a royal chariot; The foolish are immersed in it, but the
wise do not touch it’.
In Buddhism, there is no concept of the origin of life. Proceeding from
impermanence is the absence of the ‘self’ or non-egoity (anatta). In his
momentary state of existence, man is composed of five unreal elements
(pancakkhanda): body, feelings, perceptions, impulses and emotions, and
acts of consciousness (Nyanaponika Thera, 1981). There is no ‘I’ as such,
identity being only a product of a succession of causes, a complex com-
pound of fleeting mental states. ‘Being’ is always ‘becoming’. Dependent
origination (patticasamuppada) is governed by the law of kamma, which is
the totality of one’s actions in successive states of existence that determine
his fate in the next (Bhikkhu Bodhi, 1992).
The egalitarian orientation of Theravada Buddhism proceeds from its
concept of non-egoity. The Buddha was quoted in the Sutta Nipata as saying:
By birth is not one an outcast,
By birth is not one a Brahmin,
By deeds is one an outcast,
By deeds is one a Brahmin (Narada Thera, 1964: 307).
Men and women are not judged based on their status but based on indi-
vidual merit. The Buddha welcomed representatives of all castes and genders
into his fold: Upali, the barber; Sunita, the scavenger; Sati, the fisherman’s
son; Ambapali, the courtesan; Rajjumala and Puna, the slave girls. All of them
were admitted to the monastic community (Sangha) with equal reverence
and later, were given the honor of becoming chief disciples (arahat).

2. ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF MAN

Let us now discuss the Islamic view of the human person. The Qur’an
states that Allah is the only Creator and is, therefore, the Master of every-
one’s destiny. He created every being for a definite purpose and his wor-
shippers ask Him only to guide them onto the right path (Doi, 1998: 65).
Al Hijr (15): 28-29 describes the creation of Adam, the first human being:
Behold! Thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I am about to create man from
sounding clay from mud moulded into shape; When I have fash-
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 213

ioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit,
fall ye down in obeisance unto him’.
This passage, which is the first direct revelation to Prophet Muhammad,
demonstrates the omnipotence of God and attributes mortality to man
(because God made him out of clay) as well as a supreme status of man
among all his creatures (because God has breathed His spirit into him).
Ordered by God to fall down in obeisance to man, the angels pros-
trated before Adam, except for the head of the angels, Iblis. He argued
that he could not prostrate himself to one who was merely ‘from mud
moulded into shape’ (Al Hijr (15): 30-33). Thereupon, God turned Iblis
away and cast a curse on him. But the latter succeeded in asking for
reprieve till the Day of Judgment. In the meantime, Iblis, who became the
embodiment of evil, has been spending his time seducing humans into
committing sin (Al Hijr (15): 34-44; Al Baqarah (2): 30-39). Man’s God-
given power to think and reason conveys Islam’s message of the basic
unity of mankind and repudiates the idea of the multiple ancestry of man.
Al Nisa’ (4): 1 expresses this concept of the equality of men and one-ness
of humanity: ‘O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created
you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them
twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; – reverence God,
through Whom ye demand mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs
(that bore you): for God ever watches over you’.
The Qur’an states that God has created man ‘in the best of moulds
(taqwim)’ such that angels had to make obeisance to him. Al Tin (95): 4-6
affirms that the constitution of man is perfect but one’s nature can be
debased if he loses his faith and does not lead a good life: ‘We have indeed
created man in the best of moulds, Then do We abase him (to be) the low-
est of the low, Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall
have a reward unfailing’.
The process of man’s creation has symbolic meaning for Muslims. Even
if man is intelligent and rational because God breathed His spirit on him,
he is also innocent and vulnerable, having been created out of clay. Man’s
vulnerability was demonstrated when Adam succumbed to temptation. The
Qur’an describes God’s mercy when He took pity on Adam and gave guid-
ance to him and his descendants (Al Baqarah (2): 35-39; Sarah (20): 122-
123). Man’s shield against evil deeds and eternal damnation is total sub-
mission to God, which is the meaning of the word ‘Islam’.
The question of whether man has free will or is completely bound by
predestination was the subject of debate since the first centuries of Islam.
214 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

A group called the Qadariyya, which was influenced by the theologian al-
Hasan al-Basri (d. 728), posited that man was essentially free to choose
between either faith in and obedience to God or rebellion and infidelity to
God (Riddell, 2003: 24). The Qadariyya cited such passages from the Qur’an
as Ibrahim (14): 27: ‘... but God will leave, to stray, those who do wrong’. On
the other hand, those who opposed them averred that man is under the
absolute control of God and is subject to His predetermined order. They
referred to such Qur’anic statements as Al Ra’d (13): 27: ‘Truly God leaveth,
to stray, whom He will (Ibid.: 25)’.
In the 10th century, the reformist thinker al-Ash’ari offered a middle
course: man can choose between options provided by God, with God know-
ing beforehand what options would be chosen (Ibid.: 27). The debate on
predestination versus free will continues to this day. Many contemporary
Muslim scholars endeavor to provide a balanced standpoint that comes
close to the explanation given by al-Ash’ari (Ibid.: 28-29).
Professor Abdur Al-Rahman I. Doi describes the test that man under-
goes: ‘Allah has created man of the best stature and in the best mould.
But, in spite of all this, when a man makes the wrong use of his opportu-
nity and misuses his free-will, Allah causes him to return to the lowest of
the low (Ibid.: 73)’.
Divine justice is meted out in this world and finally, on the Day of
Judgment. Resurrection after death is part of Islamic doctrine. The Qur’an
mandates that the goal of man on earth is the assimilation of divine attrib-
utes. These attributes consist of goodness, truthfulness, justice, forgiveness,
virtuous personal conduct and decent social behavior. Man’s duties include
his obligations not only towards his Creator but also towards himself and
his fellow human beings (Doi, 1998: 113). In order to achieve this, Islam
does not require renunciation of this world. Instead, it prescribes coordi-
nation of the spiritual and material aspects of life. Al Qasas (28): 77 admon-
ishes: ‘But seek, with the (wealth) which God has bestowed on thee, the
Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world; do thou good,
as God has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the
land; for God loves not those who do mischief’.
Forgiveness and compassion for one’s fellowmen are deeply rooted in
Islam: ‘Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity;
who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; – for God loves those who do
good (Ali ‘Imran (3): 134)’. ‘Kind words and the covering of faults are bet-
ter than charity followed by injury. God is free of all wants, and He is most
Forbearing (Al Baqarah (2): 263)’.
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 215

Islam requires regular charity for the poor (Al Baqarah (2): 43, 110, 177,
277; Al Nisa (4): 162; Al Ma’idah I(5): 55). A worshipper who ‘repulses the
orphan (with harshness) and encourages not the feeding of the indigent’ is
censured (Al Ma’un (107): 1-7).
Muslims are expected to set the highest standard in uprightness, piety
and decency for the world. They must follow the example of Muhammad,
the Holy Prophet of Allah and the epitome of the perfect man by whose
standard the rest of mankind will be measured on the Day of Judgment
(Doi, 1998: 148). Al Hajj (22): 78 highlights the role of Muslims: ‘And
strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under disci-
pline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in reli-
gion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you
Muslims, but before and in (Revelation); that the Messenger be a witness
for you, and that ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular prayer,
give regular charity, and hold fast to God! He is your Protector – the Best
to protect and the Best to help’.

3. THERAVADA BUDDHIST AND ISLAMIC TEACHINGS ON HUMAN GOVERNANCE

Having examined the conceptualization of the human person in the two


religions, we shall proceed to discuss the scriptural teachings on human
governance. Concepts of the ideal state proceed from fundamental premis-
es on the human person.
For Theravada Buddhism, the ideal state is one which creates condi-
tions for men and women to over-ride their khamma of the past and ensure
the accumulation of merit that would improve their khamma for their next
lives, thus bringing them closer to Nibbana. For Islam, the goal of gover-
nance is facilitating the realization of God’s design for every human person,
enabling him to fulfill his obligations to God and supporting him in tread-
ing the moral path. Both religions regard the state as having an escatho-
logical function: that of helping mankind achieve salvation.

3.1 The Buddha-Raja and the Cakkavati

The Buddhist text, Cakkavatti-Sihanada-sutta, describes the deteriora-


tion of society due to rulers’ disregard for public welfare. Economic depri-
vation spread and led to evil and vice, which eventually gave way to destruc-
tion. Men lost their reason and selfishness prevailed. Boundary lines were
216 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

set; food was stored; many stole their neighbor’s share. Stealing caused vio-
lence, lying, foul speech, and immorality. In the midst of this chaos, men
began to seek stability (Jayatille, 1967: 524). They decided to select among
themselves a wise and virtuous ruler, to whose authority they would submit
themselves in return for order and justice in society.
This Buddhist contribution to political theory antedated the social con-
tract theory of Locke and Rosseau. It implies the obligation of rulers to
serve the good of their citizens and of mankind. The only limitation is the
requirement that the collective will must conform to the universal law of
righteousness (Dhamma). The Digha-nikaya sets as the primary aim of the
welfare state the care and protection of every inhabitant, man or animal.
The Anguttara-nikaya gives an account of the Buddha’s discourse with the
Licchavis on the Vijjian confederacy. The Vijjian state recognized due
process, public assembly, equal justice and other basic human rights. The
government also held traditional respect for ancient statutes and institu-
tions, and protected the aged, women, holy men and religious establish-
ments. Showing his appreciation for the way their affairs of state were con-
ducted, the Buddha said that as long as the Vijjians continued to uphold
their social and political traditions, they will not suffer decline (Ibid.: 85).
The state must ensure that crime is abated by removing the causes of
social evil – avarice and poverty. This move must be supplemented by the
training of the populace in the right values. There is a need for an organ-
ized distribution of wealth (dana-samibhaga). This can be implemented, for
instance, through a taxation policy in which the king, during bad harvests,
reduces taxes or helps the farmers to pay them. The last duty of the state is
that its laws and policies must be based on the Dhamma. The Digha-nikaya
prescribes that the ruler must consult religious teachers and philosophers,
to ensure that the creation of favorable social and political conditions
would provide opportunities for Nibbana for everyone. The ruler must
uphold the Dhamma by providing the example of righteousness to his sub-
jects and guiding them toward the path of righteousness and salvation.
In dealing with other countries, the value of peace and tolerance is
intrinsic in the social philosophy of Theravada Buddhism. It derives itself
from the Buddha’s compassion for all beings and his recognition of univer-
sal equality which are contained in the Buddhist texts – Dhammapada,
Samyutta-nikaya, Angutarra-nikaya and Majjima-nikaya.
Like Prophet Muhammad, the Buddha had experience in actually medi-
ating a dispute involving states. Not having been contented with merely
preaching peace and non-violence, he went to the battlefield to personally
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 217

reconcile the Sakyas and Koliyas, who were feuding over the Rahini River.
He admonished them to give more regard for human life than for such an
insignificant matter as the ownership of the river waters.
The Buddha never found wars of aggression favorable whether culminat-
ing in victory or in defeat. The Samyutta-nikaya recounts the Buddha’s admo-
nition to King Kosala, who was defeated by his nephew King Ajatasattu:
Conquest engenders hate; the conquered live
In misery. But whoso is at peace
And passionless, happily doth he live;
Conquest hath he abandoned and defeat! (Ibid.: 200-201)
Theravada Buddhism maintains that both the cause and result of
aggressive war are immorality and social decadence. Avihimsa (non-vio-
lence) springs from akrodaya (non-ill will). The Majjhima-nikaya says that
no man is justified in killing even while fighting as a dutiful citizen for his
country or for a noble cause. Instead of gaining salvation for himself after
death, the Samyutta-nikaya quoted the Buddha as saying that the combat-
ant will find himself reborn in a miserable condition.
The first ruler to consciously apply Dhamma to actual political practice
was Asoka Maurya, the great emperor of India (Anuradha Seneviratna,
1994). After his conversion to Buddhism, he established the first welfare
state in the world which recognized the equality of everyone under the
common brotherhood of the Dhamma. He ordered the inscription of a
series of edicts which embodied his rule of righteousness and justice. The
edicts were read aloud to his subjects to spread the message of the
Dhamma. He ordered ‘for the enjoyment of man and beast’ the erection of
hospitals, rest house, and watering places, the planting of shade trees and
the digging of wells. To ensure the spiritual well-being of his realm, he was
said to have built numerous monasteries and some 80,000 stupas and sup-
ported 64,000 monks.
Asoka formed groups called Dhamma Mahammatras which were dele-
gated the special function of promoting morality. Reporters were posted
everywhere to regularly report to him the problems of his people. His ideal
society was said to have been pervaded with mutual love, not only between
him and his subjects, but also between elders and children, masters and
slaves, monks and followers. The social philosophy of love and brotherhood
was not confined to his realm. Asoka was the first monarch recorded in his-
tory ever to renounce war (Soma Thera, 1962: 20). He enjoined the neigh-
boring kingdoms to abandon artificial barriers which separated men and
states. It was because of the example of his virtuous and benevolent socie-
218 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

ty that Buddhism found favor among the many countries which were con-
verted during his reign.
Asoka became the exemplar of Buddhist governance. The earliest
Buddhist chronicle of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the Mahavamsa, describes virtu-
ous monarchs as ‘... men of good understanding, who have conquered pride
and indolence, and have freed themselves from the attachment of lust,
when they have attained to great power, without working harm to the peo-
ple, delighting in deeds or merit, rejoicing in faith, do many and various
pious works (Geiger, 1960: 245)’.
The contractual and paternalistic basis of kingship later assumed the
more exalted concept of the universal ruler (cakkavati samkha) which was
to transform the idea of the king as a father into one who identified his rule
with the will of the heavens.
This concept of the universal ruler was influenced by the Hindu idea of
the mahapurusa cakravartin, the celestial monarch who turns the Wheel of
the Law and reigns universally. It is mentioned in the Cakkavati-Sihanada-
sutta, the Maha-sudassana-sutta, and the Ambattha-suttanta of the Digha-
nikaya (Rhys Davids, 1921: Part II, 192-199; Part IV, 59-71). Gautama
Buddha was pictured in the Lakkahasa-sutta as one who was given the
choice between universal kingship and supreme Buddhahood (Ibid.: Part
III, 137). He chose the latter, but after his death, he prepared for his future
role as the ideal world monarch.
The original meaning of Bodhisatta as one about to reach enlighten-
ment was to acquire another significance, i.e., one who is to become the
Savior – Buddha-Metteyya. According to Buddhist messianic thought, the
world will reach its peak of disillusionment and moral decay 4,000 years
after Buddha’s death. The Buddha will then reappear as Metteyya (Sanskrit:
Maitreya), the deity residing in heaven. The latter will come down to earth,
‘abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds,
unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and
men, and Exalted One, a Buddha, even as I am now (Ibid.: Part III, 73)’.
Assuming the role of a cakkavati samkha, he ‘turns the Wheel of the
Law’, in the sense of placing the world under the unifying moral influence
of the universal law of righteousness, the Dhamma. He is to rule justly and
mercifully; unequalled generosity will be demonstrated by him by renounc-
ing his wealth and power, distributing his treasures to the poor, homeless
and destitute. The Anguttara-nikaya adds that the universal emperor will
establish a ‘kingless authority’ (arajaka cakka), with the Dhamma reigning
supreme (Jayatilleke, 1967: 539).
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 219

The Cakkavati-Bodhisatta-Metteyya tradition was not only associated


with Gautama Buddha, but was later to apply to subsequent rulers of the
Theravada countries. Before the concept of Buddha-raja came to Southeast
Asia, it was developed in Ceylon around 6 A.D., when the cakkavati ideal was
incorporated into the kingship (Nicholas and Paranavitana, 1961: 171).
After 12 A.D., this ideal was further propagated in later inscriptions and writ-
ings of royal patronage (Arasaratnam, 1964: 54). In pre-Buddhistic South
and Southeast Asia, kings, who were then within the pale of Hinduism, were
already considered of divine nature. The introduction of Buddhism gave
them an added attribute: that of the living Bodhisatta (an enlightened being
who postpones Nibbana in order to guide humanity towards the right
path). These rulers used the concept to its fullest advantage either in legit-
imizing and preserving their power. The realization of the ideal Buddhist
society became the aspiration of Theravada Buddhist kings who expected
to become the Metteyya in their future lives.

3.2. Interpretations of the Islamic Approach to Governance

I am especially grateful to my former student at Ohio University,


Professor Bahtiar Effendy of the University of Indonesia (UI) and the
Islamic State University (UIN), for his elucidation on political Islam. His
book, Islam and the State in Indonesia (2003), is one of the most authorita-
tive sources on the subject.
Effendy analyzes the ‘polyinterpretability’ of Islam as applied to politi-
cal theory:
Religion, as some have argued, may be seen as a divine instrument to
understand the world. Islam – in comparison with other religions – is
conceivably the one with the least difficulty in accepting such a prem-
ise. An obvious reason lies in one of Islam’s most conspicuous char-
acteristics: its ‘omnipresence’. This is a notion which recognizes that
‘everywhere’ the presence of Islam should provide ‘the right moral
attitude for human action’. This notion has led many adherents to
believe that Islam is a total way of life. The embodiment of this is
expressed in the shari’a (Islamic Law). A sizeable group of Muslims
even push it further, asserting that ‘Islam is an integrated totality that
offers a solution to all problems of life’ (Effendy, 2003: 34).
However, Effendy thinks that different intellectual inclinations in
understanding the shari’a may lead to different interpretations of that
doctrine: ‘The emergence of a number of different schools of thought in
220 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

Islamic jurisprudence or various theological and philosophical streams,


for instance, shows that Islamic teachings are polyinterpretable. The
interpretive nature of Islam has functioned as the basis of Islamic flexi-
bility in history. In addition, it also confirms the necessity of pluralism in
Islamic tradition. Therefore, as many have argued, Islam could not and
should not perceived as monolithic (Ibid.: 5)’.
Peter Riddell (2003) describes the tendency to adhere to the unity of
faith and practice in Islamic thinking: ‘The life of a Muslim is traditionally
governed by the twin science of Theology and Law. Theology provides a
framework for religious belief, while Law provides a framework for actions.
Law plays the primary role, and the Islamic sacred law, the shari’a, differs
greatly from western ideas of law. First and primarily, it is much wider in
its application, for it includes all human action in its scope: public and pri-
vate actions, national and international situations, as well as the details of
religious ritual and the ethics of social conduct. Second, the shari’a differs
fundamentally from western law in that it is not man-made, according to
Muslim belief, but is considered by Muslims to be grounded on divine rev-
elation as revealed to the prophet Muhammad (Riddell, 2003: 50)’.
In the 10th century, the leading four schools of law were consolidated
and have survived in Sunni Islam (Ibid.: 54-55):
1. Hanafi school: originated in Iraq and has the most numerous follow-
ings found in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, India and Turkish Central
Asia.. Position: the use of analogical reasoning (qiyas) has priority.
Founded by Imam Abu Hanifa (699-765).
2. Maliki school: developed in Medina and popular in North and West
Africa and Upper Egypt. Position: there is no overriding authority
from the Hadith accounts (narrations about the life of the Prophet).
Founded by Imam Malik Ibn Anas (714-796).
3. Shafi’i school: strong presence in Lower Egypt, Hijaz, South Arabia,
East Africa, coastal parts of India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Position:
any authentic tradition of the proven practices of Prophet
Muhammad, including the sunna, is authoritative and is a valid
source of the fiqh (legal rulings of the Muslim scholars). Founded by
Imam Shafi (767-820).
4. Hanbali school: prevalent in Saudi Arabia. Position: Tradition has pri-
ority over qiyas (analogical reasoning). Founded by Imam Ahmed Ibn
Hanbal (780-855).
In the contemporary world, there have emerged four categories of
Muslim responses to the pressures and demands of modernity:
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 221

1. Traditionalists: maintain a continuum between the past and the pres-


ent, with the past serving as guide to deal with present issues.
2. Radical Islamists: call for a reinterpretation of the present through a
recreation of the past, a return to a model Medina-type community
such as that established by Prophet Muhammad, with the Qur’an and
the Sunna as the central points of reference.
3. Modernists: advocate the unity of religion and politics but balanced
by drawing on elements of Western culture and lifestyle that could
facilitate this overall goal.
4. Secularists: assert the separation of religion and politics and making
Islam primarily a major element of cultural identity rather than the
essence of one’s being (Ibid.: 82).
Chandra Muzaffar describes the resurgence of Islam as ‘the espousal of
an Islamic alternative as a challenge to the dominant social systems
(Muzaffar, 1986: 5)’. It is more that mere ‘re-assertion’ which connotes insis-
tence upon one’s position or ‘revivalism’, which carries the idea of ‘return-
ing to the past and a desire to revive what is antiquated (Ibid.)’.
Muzaffar lists down the main characteristics of the Islamic resurgence
which began in the Middle East and South Asia, and has won adherents in
Malaysia and Indonesia:
1. A fervent belief that society should be organized on the basis of the
Qur’an and the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet);
2. An explicit recognition that the Qur’an and the Sunnah lay out a com-
plete way of life whose sanctity and purity should not be tarnished by
new interpretations influenced by time and circumstances.
3. The establishment of an educational system directed towards the cre-
ation of ethical human beings as an alternative to the functional, util-
itarian type of education available in most Muslim countries.
4. The rejection of Western civilization because the secularization of
life, the subversion of eternal values, and the pervasive growth of
materialism are all indications that Western civilization which has
long been in a state of crisis is on the verge of collapse.
5. The dethronement of the West as a civilization because its models of
growth and social change negate man, subordinating the human
being to materialistic goals and desires (Ibid.: 9-11).
Muzaffar believes that the Islamic resurgence can make a substantial
impact in helping to ‘nurture “God consciousness” among secular elites
both in the West and the East (Ibid.: 29)’. He refers to the shaping of a new
human person: ‘The Islamic conception of God is particularly suited to the
222 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

task of making modern man, with his emphasis upon rationality, aware of
the importance of believing in a transcendental reality because it is so inti-
mately linked to reason. For it is not mere faith which is expected to con-
vince man of the existence of God but his own observations of the workings
of nature, the process involved in the biological conception of the human
being, the physiological structure of man, the specificity and variety in ani-
mal and plant life, and the pattern of growth, decay and death in all life-
forms (Ibid.: 29)’.
Muzaffar states that God’s message for mankind is contained in the rise
and fall of human civilization which coincides with either the consolidation
or erosion of social values: ‘The Qur’an argues that all these phenomena are
the signs of God. The whole of creation with all its complexities and the
entire gamut of human activity manifest the power of God. Thus, to under-
stand God one has to study man, nature and society. This helps to establish
a link between God and scientific investigation (Ibid: 29-20)’.
The sentiment that society should be organized on the basis of the
Qur’an and the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet) is manifested in greater
consciousness of proper Islamic attire, rejection of night clubs, gambling
and consumption of alcohol, faithful observance of daily prayers, and
restrained attitude towards the opposite sex (Ibid.: 8-10).
Amid the wave of Islamic fervor is a voice of moderation in the person
of Nurcolish Madjid, an Indonesian Muslim scholar and political leader. He
underscores the link between the principle of brotherhood of Muslims
(Ukhuwwah Islamiyyah) and the principle that all mankind are brothers.
He believes that the division of mankind into races and religions ‘must be
borne in a broader humanitarian environment with an attitude of absolute
mutual respect (Madjid, 2004: 74). He lays stress on the admonition of the
Qur’an that “God alone has the right to measure and determine someopne’s
worth, whereas a man must appraise other men in the spirit of equality
(Ibid.: 74-75)”’.

4. RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES ON POLITICS AND STATE PRACTICE

4.1. The Buddhist Countries

In the four predominantly Theravada Buddhist countries – Cambodia,


Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, Buddhism plays an important role in daily
life and statecraft. For the majority population, being a Buddhist is part
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 223

and parcel of their ethnic identity. To be Khmer, to be Lao, to be Burmese


and to be Thai is to be Buddhist. But it is Thailand’s constitutional monar-
chy that comes closest to a traditional Buddhist state (Suksamran, 1993:
107-137). Buddhist monks continue to play an active role in Thai society.
The most recent display of their involvement was when they demonstrated
against the registration of a beer company in the stock market.
The Thai Buddhist text, Traiphuum Phra Ruang, has had an enduring
influence on Thai political thought (Jackson, 1993: 67-68). It includes ref-
erences to the Buddha-raja and idealizes Sukkhothai, which was the first
Thai kingdom under benevolent Buddhist monarch, Ram Khamhaeng.
Peter Jackson believes that the Traiphuum Phra Ruang continues to have
political significance even after King Mongkut (Rama IV) initiated a ratio-
nalist interpretation of traditional Buddhist teachings. He points out that
since the late fifties, there have been attempts by political conservatives to
reaffirm the link between the Traiphuum and the exercise of political
authority (Ibid.: 77).
Since the mid-1970s, the reformists have provided their own progres-
sive, rationalist interpretations in order to counter the conservatives. In
their goal to promote democratization in governance, they have highlight-
ed the egalitarian qualities of the Sukhotai kingdom of Ram Khamheng,
the first Thai monarch who applied Buddhist principles (Suksamran, 1993:
110). They have also de-emphasized the role of khamma and have stressed
the promise of Nibbana (Jackson, 1993: 80-86).
Buddhism plays a legitimating function to the present day. In his speech-
es, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has always referred to Bhikkhu
Buddhadasa, an advocate for a more politically engaged form of Buddhist
practice (Phongpaichit and Baker, 2004: 85, 136-138, 214). Buddhadasa, who
passed away in 1993, asserted that Buddhists have the duty to improve the
present world, rather than merely accumulating merit for the next life. He
presented the idea of ‘dhammic socialism’ that would cleanse society. He
believed that such a political system must be ruled by those who had
detached themselves from ego and materialism (Ibid.: 136-137).
Prime Minister Thaksin favors kan mueang ning or quiet politics (Ibid.:
139), over contentious political debate. In his thinking, ‘calm politics’ con-
forms more to the Buddhist notion of moral leadership: ‘Buddhadasa saw
that politics is thamma and thamma is politics. Politics is a duty. Politics is
organizing the mass of people in society to live together, without crime.
Politics which has thamma is the politics of men of moral integrity
(satthaburut). He (Buddhadasa) said that parliament should be an assem-
224 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

bly of men of moral integrity, or an assembly of politicians who have tham-


ma. But if parliamentarians argue, exchange abuse, and attack one anoth-
er, just protecting their own interests, it should not be called a parliament
in Buddhadasa’s sense (quoted in Ibid.: 137)’.

4.2. The Muslim Countries

The Constitution of Brunei Darussalam declares Islam as the state reli-


gion and provides that ‘the Head of the religion of Brunei Darussalam shall
be His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan (Head of State)’. Since the
14th century, the title of the Sultan of Brunei has passed within the same
dynasty. The present Sultan, His Majesty Hassanal Bolkiah, is both the
head of state and head of government. There is a Religious Council that
advises the Sultan on religious matters. While Brunei’s legal system is based
on English common law, Shari’a law, which applies to Muslims, supersedes
civil law in family matters and a number of other areas.
In Malaysia, almost 60% of the population are Muslim. According to its
Constitution, the official religion is Islam, ‘but other religions may be prac-
ticed in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation’. It is also pro-
vided that ‘in every State other than States not having a Ruler the position
of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner
and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution, all rights,
privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion,
are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observance or ceremonies
with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should
extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his
capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorize the Yang di-pertuan
Agong to represent him’.
The character of governance in Malaysia has largely been shaped by Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad, who, as Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years
(1981-2003), adopted an open-minded approach to the application of
Islam. In his book, Islam and the Muslim Ummah (2003), he deplores the
practice of politicians to interpret the Qur’an and to casually label other
Muslims as ‘infidels’ for not supporting their political parties or their polit-
ically motivated interpretations of Islam (Mahathir Mohamad, 2003: 173).
He criticizes the misuse of Islamic concepts like jihad by certain extremist
groups: ‘Their way will only lead to more and deeper schism amongst the
Muslims, retarding their progress and perpetuating their oppression by
others. True jihad is the struggle for Muslim unity, acquisition of Muslim
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 225

statecraft, knowledge and skills so that the Muslims will be freed of oppres-
sion and be able to take their place as successful members of a regenerat-
ed Muslim civilization (Ibid.: 62)’.
Dr. Mahathir refers to three passages from the Qur’an as proofs of
Islam’s spirit of tolerance and forgiveness: ‘Allah forbids you not, with
regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your
homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those
who are just (Al Mumtahinah (60): 8)’. ‘It is part of the Mercy of Allah that
thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they
would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (their faults), and
ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of
moment). Then, when thou has taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For
Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him) (Ali ‘Imran (3): 159). To you
your religion, and to me my religion (Al Kafirun (109): 6)’.
Dr. Mahathir emphasizes that the Constitution of Medina was way
ahead of its time, encouraging cooperation and solidarity among Muslims,
Christians, Jews and adherents of other faiths. ‘It ensured freedom, includ-
ing freedom of worship as well as equality and justice for all (Ibid.: 107)’.
In 2001, his announcement that Malaysia was in fact an Islamic state
precipitated a national political discourse (Martinez, 2004: 29-48). It did
serve the purpose of neutralizing the rival Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS),
which sought the support of the Muslim majority.
The PAS was originally established by members of the Religion
Department (Biro Agama) of the United Muslim Nationalist Organization
(UMNO) who were disenchanted with the secularism of that party in the early
1950’s. PAS was the ruling party in two provinces on the east coast of the
Malaysian Peninsula – Terengganu Province from 1959 to 1961 and Kelantan
Province from 1959 to 1977. In the general elections of 1990 and 1995, it
formed a coalition with the Spiritual Party Year 46 (later renamed the Malay
Spiritual Party Year 46) and controlled several provincial governments.
The ultimate goal of the party is to build an Islamic state that governs
through shari’ah or Islamic law. In the general elections of 2004, PAS gar-
nered only seven parliamentary seats, a significant decrease from the 27 par-
liamentary seats that it had in 1999. It lost control of Terengganu, but
retained its dominance in Kelantan, with a slim majority of 24 out of 45 seats.
Let us now proceed to examine the situation in Indonesia, the
Muslim country in Southeast Asia that has been in the limelight in recent
years. It has the world’s largest Muslim population (almost 90% of its
population of 215,960,000). But because the country has sizeable non-
226 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

Muslim minorities, it has a secular constitution that did not adopt Islam
as the official religion.
Bahtiar Effendy provides his analysis of the perception of shari’a among
the Muslim majority in his country: ‘Being Muslim, they accept the signifi-
cance of shari’a and are obliged to implement Islamic teachings in all
aspects of life. Yet they differ greatly with regard to how shari’a is to be
understood, interpreted, and implemented. They do not believe that Islamic
shari’a should be adopted in its entirety and serve as the positive law of the
land. Instead, they share the idea that certain elements of Islamic shari’a
can be formulated into legally binding law, such as on issues related to mar-
riage and divorce, inheritance and endowment, zakat collection and distri-
bution, the pilgrimage, and the like. The fact that many Muslims feel that
the state’s accommodation of Islamic law is still limited has not stopped
them from struggling within the bounds of the existing system, laws, and
regulations (Effendy, 2003: 223-224)’.
The largest Muslim organization in the country is Nahdlatul Ulama
(NU), which was founded by traditional religious scholars (ulama) in East
Java in 1926. In its active involvement in the building of civil society in
Indonesia, the NU has championed the idea of rahmatan lil’alamin (mercy
on the universe), which is a principle of the Shariah and is the basis of the
NU’s advocacy for human rights (Falaakh, 2001: 34). The organization
believes that implementing Islamic teachings in Indonesian society
requires pribumisasi or nativization of Islam (Ibid.: 35). Muhamad Fajrul
Falaakh, who was chairperson of the executive board of Nahdlatul
Ulama, pribumisasi entails harmonization with the prevailing social and
cultural conditions.
In the struggle for Indonesia’s independence in 1945, the NU was affili-
ated with the Masyumi, the Islamic political party. From 1952 to 1973, it
functioned as an independent political party (Ibid.: 33). It became part of of
the United Development Party (PPP) in 1973-1983. It established its own
political party, the National Awakening Party (PKB). NU now adopts the
vision of the ‘three brotherhoods’: akhuwawah Islamiyah, ukhuwwah
wathaniyyabh and ukhuwwah basyariyah – brotherhood among Muslims,
among fellow citizens and among human beings (Ibid.: 37). It has advocat-
ed tolerance towards all ethnic and religious minorities in Indonesia.
Abdurrahman Wahid, who headed NU, became the second President
after the fall of President Suharto. He formed the National Awakening
Party, PKB., following the dramatic fall of President Suharto. During his
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 227

short presidency, Wahid did not favor the Islamization of his country and
consistently maintained that one’s faith should not be imposed on others.
The other major organization is Muhammadiyah, which was founded in
1912. Its main concern and target has been community development. It is
committed to a program of social and religious education within Muslim
communities (dakwah jemaah), peaceful family life (keluarga sakinah), and
peaceful and prosperous village life (qaryah thayyibah). The organization has
been unwilling to change its social and cultural orientation to a political one.
The Islamic values of justice, equality, diligence, honesty and entrepre-
neurship comprise the Muhammadiyah’s ethos. The organization has
played a vital role in promoting and enhancing the idea of civil society
(masyarakat madani) from its early existence to the present time (Abdullah,
2001: 44-46). It belongs to the modernist school which believes in the twin
pillars of reason and revelation. According to M. Amin Abdullah, who is one
of the vice-chairpersons of the central leadership board of the
Muhammadiyah, ‘the traditional type of charismatic and paternalistic lead-
ership has been slowly, but surely, relegated and substituted by the modern
type of democratic leadership (Ibid.: 46)’.
The General Chairman of the Muhammadiyah from 1995 to 1999 was
Amien Rais. In the 2004 presidential elections, he ran under the banner of
the National Mandate Party, an open political party which had Muslim as
well as non-Muslim candidates. He was unsuccessful in his bid for the pres-
idency but remains a respected political leader.
According to Effendy, political Islam in Indonesia is not aspiring for the
establishment of an Islamic state. Cognizant of the heterogeneity of the
country, its proponents ‘are working for the development of a socio-politi-
cal system which reflects, or is in tune with, the general principles of
Islamic political values, including justice, consultation, egalitarianism, and
participation (Effendy, 2003: 195)’.
Effendy observes that political Islam no longer focuses its efforts to par-
tisan politics but now broadens its activities in partnership with various
non-governmental organizations, particularly the NU and Muhammadiyah.
He believes that this more integrative approach has shown signs of success:
‘Political Islam seems to have found ways to integrate itself into the dis-
course of Indonesia’s national politics. In addition, there are also a number
of indications which suggest that the state is beginning to see political
Islam not as a threat, but as a complementary force in the country’s nation-
al development (Ibid.)’.
228 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

Conclusions

In our study of the fundamental teachings of Theravada Buddhism and


Islam, we can arrive at the following conclusions:
1. Theravada Buddhism is premised on non-egoity. It does not have a
counterpart of Christianity’s Genesis. Instead, khamma is the gov-
erning force that determines the circumstances of one’s past, pres-
ent and future forms and quality of existence. Theravada Buddhism
offers an ethical system that teaches that life is all suffering and that
the cycle of birth, death and rebirth can be ended through the oblit-
eration of desire. Through pure thoughts and good conduct, one
frees himself from khamma and samsara, and eventually achieves
Nibbana.
2. Islam presents a doctrine of Creation, in which an Almighty God
called Allah, created man from clay, signifying mankind’s mortality.
Allah breathed life into His creation, bestowing upon him His
Divine qualities and embodying man’s perfectibility. In contrast to
Buddhism, every individual created by Allah has an identity. He is
accountable to Allah who dispenses justice, which is the end-pur-
pose of Creation.
3. The destiny and character of the human person in both religions are
largely predetermined. In Theravada Buddhism, it is one’s khamma,
which is generated by his past deeds, that shapes what he is now
and coupled with what he does now, what he will progressively
become in this life as well as in the next. The more liberal Theravada
Buddhists tend to emphasize the promise of Nibbana over the bur-
den of khamma.
4. Islam teaches that God has designed the fate of every human being.
There are schools of thought in Islam, which assert that man has
free will to balance his predestination, but they still believe that
Allah in His omniscience, knows what choices his human creations
will make.
5. The worthlessness of life, the illusory nature of all reality, and the
insignificance of individual existence may give the wrong impression
that Theravada Buddhism does not accord value to human rights.
They could lend credence to claims that since one’s suffering in this
present life is a product of his khamma, respect for his individual
rights cannot alleviate his misfortune. On the contrary, human rights
are intrinsic in Theravada Buddhism. It teaches the equality of and
compassion for every being and abhors violence and any form of
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 229

abuse. The Theravada scriptures also make references to the impor-


tance that the Buddha gave to democratic practices.
6. Like Theravada Buddhism, Islam also subscribes to human rights,
tolerance, good governance and peace. While Islam requires com-
plete submission to Allah and acceptance of His omnipotence and
His predetermined design for everyone, it recognizes the equality
and dignity of every person. Respect for the individual and compas-
sion for the poor proceed from the premise that men and women
have been accorded by Allah the highest status and the most perfect
form among His creatures.
7. Concepts of the ideal state in the two religions are derived from
their fundamental doctrines. The ideal ruler for Theravada
Buddhism is one who brings about conditions that will enable the
people to abide by the Dhamma so that they will have greater oppor-
tunity to reach Nibbana.
8. Among Buddhist societies in contemporary Southeast Asia, it is
only in Thailand where religion is institutionalized in the political
system, in the person of the constitutional monarch. Being the sym-
bol of both Buddhism and the nation, the King is the object of rev-
erence by his people.
9. Conservative Muslims uphold the orthodox model of the Islamic
state, in which the Islamic law, shari’a, encompasses every sphere of
life – political, social, economic and cultural. Secularist and mod-
ernist Muslims, for their part, are open to adaptation to the require-
ments of contemporary society and the creative incorporation of
Western principles of governance.
10. Among the predominantly Muslim countries in Southeast Asia, it is
the state practice of Brunei Darussalam that comes closest to Islam.
The political institutions and political dynamics of Indonesia and
Malaysia have also been significantly influenced by Islam.
11. All Southeast Asian countries, except Timor Leste, are members of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The
Association indirectly serves as a bridge among the civilizations and
religions of a region. ASEAN countries have enriched their indige-
nous cultures with influences from China, India as well as the Arabic
and Western worlds. ASEAN has also provided an enduring frame-
work for peacefully resolving conflicts among member-countries and
with extra-regional countries. The declarations and treaties of the
organization have developed the international practice of member
countries, having accustomed them to the culture of peace.
230 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

REFERENCES

Abdullah, M. Amin. 2001. ‘Muhammadiyah’s Experience in Promoting Civil


Society in Indonesia’. In Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia. Ed.
by Nakamura Mitsuo, Sharon Siddique and Omar Farouk Bajunid.
Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 43-56.
Acharya Buddharakkhita (Trans.) 2003. The Dhammapada: The Buddha’s
Path of Wisdom. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.
Anderson, Benedict. 1990. Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures
in Indonesia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Anuradha Seneviratna (ed.). 1994. King Asoka and Buddhism. Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society.
Arasaratnam, Sinnapah. 1964. Ceylon. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-
Hall.
Ayubi, Nazih. 1991. Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World.
London and New York: Routledge.
Azyumardi Azra. 2004. ‘Political Islam in Post-Soeharto Indonesia’. In
Islamic Perspectives on the New Millenium. Ed. By Virginia Hooker and
Amin Saikal. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 133-149.
Bhikkhu Bodhi (Trans.) 1992. The Discourse on The Root of Existence The
Malapariyaya Sutta and Its Commentaries. Kandy: Buddhist Publication
Society.
Case, William. 2002. Politics in Southeast Asia: Democracy or Less. London
and New York: Routledge Curzon.
Chan Heng Chee. 1993. ‘Democracy: Evolution and Implementation an Asian
Perspective’. In Democracy & Capitalism Asian and American Perspectives.
Ed. by Robert Bartley, Chan Heng Chee, Samuel P. Huntington and
Shijuro Ogata. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Cribb, Robert. 2005. ‘Legal Pluralism, Decentralization and the Roots of
Violence in Indonesia’. In Violent Internal Conflicts in Asia Pacific:
Histories, Political Economies and Policies. Ed. by Dewi Fortuna Anwar,
Helene Bouvier, Glenn Smith and Roger Tol. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor
Indonesia, LIPI, LASEMA-CNRS, KITLV – Jakarta. 41-57.
Doi, Abd Al-Rahman I. 1998. Introduction to the Holy Qur’an. New Delhi:
Sterling Publishers Private Limited.
Durkheim, Emile. 1965. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. New
York: The Free Press.
Effendy, Bahtiar. 2003. Islam and the State in Indonesia. Singapore:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 231

Falaakh, Mohammad Fajrul. 2001. ‘Nahdlatul Ulama and Civil Society in


Indonesia’. In Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia. Ed. by
Nakamura Mitsuo, Sharon Siddique and Omar Farouk Bajunid.
Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 33-42.
Funston, John. 2001. ‘Thailand: Reform Politics’. In Government and Politics
in Southeast Asia. Ed. by John Funston. Singapore: Institute of Southeast
Asian Studies.
Geiger, Wilhelm (trans.) 1960. The Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of
Ceylon. London: Billing and Sons, Ltd.
Headley, Stephen C. 2004. Durga’s Mosque: Cosmology, Conversion and Co-
mmunity in Central Javanese Islam. Singapore: Institute of Southeast
Asian Studies.
Hewison, Kevin, Richard Robison and Garry Rodan (eds.). 1997. The
Political Economy of Southeast Asia. Melbourne: Oxford University
Press.
_______ (eds.). 1993. Southeast Asia in the 1990s: Authoritarianism,
Democracy, and Capitalism. St. Leonards: Allen and Urwin.
Hooker, M.B. 2004. ‘Perspectives on Shari’a and the State: The Indonesian
Debates’. In Islamic Perspectives on the New Millennium. Ed by Virginia
Hooker and Amin Saikal. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian
Studies. 199-220.
Hooker, Virginia. 2003. ‘Malaysia: Still “Islam and Politics” But Now
Enmeshed in a Global Web’. In Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics. Ed.
by Virginia Hooker and Norani Othman. Singapore: Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies. 16-36.
Huntington, Samuel. 1993. ‘American Democracy in Relation to Asia’. In
Democracy and Capitalism: Asian and American Perspectives. Ed. by
Robert Bartley, Chan Heng Chee, Samuel P. Huntington and Shijuro
Ogata. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 27-44.
Hussin, Mutalib. 1990. Islam and Ethnicity in Malay Politics. Kuala
Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
Ibrahim, Ahmad. 1985. ‘The Position of Islam in the Constitution of
Malaysia’. In Readings on Islam in Southeast Asia. Compiled by Ahmad
Ibrahim, Sharon Siddique and Yasmin Hussein.
Ireland, John. 1983. The Discourse Collection: Selections from Sutta Nipata.
Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.
Jackson, Peter. 1988. Buddhadasa: A Buddhist Thinker for the Modern World.
Bangkok: The Siam Society.
_______. 2003. Buddhadasa: Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in
Thailand. Bangkok: Silkworm Books.
232 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

Jayatilleke, K.N. 1984. Aspects of Buddhist Social Philosophy. Kandy:


Buddhist Publication Society.
______. 1983. Buddhism and Peace. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.
______. 2000. The Message of the Buddha. Kandy: Buddhist Publication
Society.
______. 1967. The Principles of International Law in Buddhist Doctrine.
Leyden: A.W. Sijthoff.
Jones, David Martin. 1997. Political Development in Pacific Asia. Cambridge:
Polity Press.
Madjid, Nurcholish. 2001. ‘Potential Islamic Doctrinal Resources for the
Establishment and Appreciation of the Modern Concept of Civil
Society’. In Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia. Ed. by Nakamura
Mitsuo, Sharon Siddique and Omar Farouk Bajunid. Singapore:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 149-164.
______. 2004. ‘Indonesian Muslims Enter a New Age’. In Islamic Perspectives
on the New Millennium. Ed. by Virginia Hooker and Amin Saikal.
Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 74-88.
______. 1968. Modernisasi Adalah Rasionalisasi Bukan Westernisasi.
Bandung: Mimbar Demokrasi.
Mahathir, Mohamad. 2003. Islam and the Muslim Ummah. Selangor Darul
Ehsan, Malaysia: Pelanduk Publications.
Mahbubani, Kishore. 2004. Can Asians Think? Singapore: Times Editions.
Martinez, Patricia. 2004. ‘Islam, Constitutional Democracy, and the Islamic
State in Malaysia’. In Civil Society in Southeast Asia. Ed. by Lee Hock
Gvan. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Moedjanto, G. 1986. The Concept of Power in Javanese Culture. Indonesia:
Gadjah Mada University Press.
Mohamad Abu Bakar. 1986. ‘Islam and Nationalism in Contemporary
Malay Society’. In Civil Society in Southeast Asia. 155-174. Ed. by Lee
Hock Gvan. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Mulder, Niels. 1998. Mysticism in Java Ideology in Indonesia. Amsterdam
and Singapore: The Pepin Press.
Muzaffar, Chandra. 1986. ‘Islamic Resurgence: A Global View’. In Islam and
Society in Southeast Asia. Ed. by Taufik Abdullah and Sharm Siddique.
Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia. 5-39.
Narada Mahathera. 1997. The Buddha and His Teachings. Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society.
Narada Thera. 1964. The Buddha and His Teachings. Colombo: Vajirarama.
_____. 1963. Dhammapada. Colombo: Vajirarama.
THE HUMAN PERSON IN THERAVADA BUDDHISM AND ISLAM 233

Neher, Clark. 1994. ‘Asian Style Democracy’. Asian Survey. Vol. 24, No. 11.
November. 949-961.
Neher, Clark and Ross Marlay. 1995. Democracy and Development in
Southeast Asia: The Winds of Change. Boulder: Westview Press.
Nicholas, C.W. and S. Paranavitana. 1961. A Concise History of Ceylon:
From the Earliest time to the Arrival of the Portuguese in 1505. Colombo:
Ceylon University Press.
Nyanaponika Thera. 1986. Anatta & Nibbana: Egolessness & Deliverance.
Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.
______. (Trans.) 1981. Anguttara Nikaya: An Anthology. Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society.
Pe, Hla. 1985. Burma: Literature, Historiography, Scholarship, Language,
Life, and Buddhism. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Phongpaichit, Pasuk and Chris Baker. 2004. Thaksin: The Business of
Politics in Thailand. Chiang Ma: Silkworm Books.
Piyadassi Thera. 2003. The Buddha’s Ancient Path. Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society.
Pye, Lucian (with Mary Pye). 1985. Asian Power and Politics: The Cultural
Dimensions of Authority. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Rahula, Walpola. 1959. What the Budhha Taught. New York: Grove Press.
Rhys Davids, T.W. and C.A.F. (eds.) 1921. Dialogues of the Buddha Parts I –
IV. London: Humphrey Milford.
Riddell, Peter. 2003. Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World. Singapore:
Horizon Books.
Santoso, Amir. 1997. ‘Democratization: The Case of Indonesia’s New Order’.
In Democratization in Southeast and East Asia. Ed. by Anek
Laothamatas. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Sasono, Adi, Dewi Fortuna Anwar and Moh Jumhur Hidayat (eds.). 1994.
Democratization Trends in Southeast Asia: Sectoral Groups’ Involvement
in Mainstream Politics. Jakarta: CIDES.
Siddhi Butr-Indr. 1973. The Social Philosophy of Buddhism. Bangkok:
Mahamakut Buddhist University.
Smith, Anthony. 2001. ‘Indonesia: Transforming the Leviathan’. In
Government and Politics in Southeast Asia. Ed. by John Funston.
Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Soma Thera. 1962 The Contribution of Buddhism to World Culture. Kandy:
Buddist Publication Society.
Suksamran, Somboon. 1982. Buddhism and Politics in Thailand. Singapore:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
234 WILFRIDO V. VILLACORTA

_______. 1993. Buddhism, Political Authority, and Legitimacy in Thailand


and Cambodia. In Buddhist Trends in Southeast Asia. Ed. by Trevor
Ling. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Vatikiotis, Michael R.J. 1996. Political Change in Southeast Asia: Trimming
the Banyan Tree. London: Routledge.
Villacorta, Wilfrido. 2002. ‘Verso una Cultura Civica Universale’. In
Globalizzazione: Conflitto o Dialogo di Civiltà? Ed. by Roberto Papini.
Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane.
______. 1983. Ang Pangaral ng Buddha (translation of the book, The
Teaching of Buddha). Tokyo: Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (Buddhist
Promoting Foundation).
______. 1973. ‘The Philosophy and Social Gospel of Theravada Buddhism’.
Philippiniana Sacra. Vol. VIII, No. 23. 173-239.
Wahid, Abdurrahman. 1986. ‘The Nahdlatul Ulama and Islam in Present
Day Indonesia’. In Civil Society in Southeast Asia. 175 – 186. Ed. by Lee
Hock Gvan. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Zartman, I. William. 2001. ‘Islam, the State and Democracy’. In Between the
State and Islam. Ed. by Charles E. Butterworth and I. Willima Zarman.
Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University
Press.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT
UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT

HERBERT SCHAMBECK

DER MENSCH ALS AUFTRAG FÜR RECHT UND POLITIK

Die Rechtsordnung stellt die Beziehung von Normsetzer und Norm-


adressaten und die Politik den sie vermittelten Willen dar. Die Kodifikation
der Politik drückt sich im Verfassungsrecht eines Staates aus. Die Wissen-
schaft vom Recht und der Politik gibt mehr oder weniger gekonnt seismo-
graphisch die Darstellung deren Entwicklung wieder. Geschichtsverständ-
nis, Gegenwartserkenntnis und Zukunftserwartung können sich dabei ver-
binden. Der Mensch selbst steht dabei zu verschiedenen Zeiten in seiner
Wertigkeit, deutlich und öfters auch unterschiedlich vom Recht und der
Politik erfasst, im Mittelpunkt. Wie aktuell diese Fragestellungen sind, ver-
deutlichte sich vor einigen Jahren als im Einvernehmen mit Papst Johan-
nes Paul II. in Wien, von polnischen Gelehrten ausgehend, mit internatio-
naler Beteiligung ein „Institut von den Wissenschaften vom Menschen“
geschaffen wurde, das regelmäßig auch im Sommer in Castelgandolfo mit
Papst Johannes Paul II. Tagungen abhielt.

I.

1. Der Mensch als Individuum und Person

Die Menschen sind als Subjekte Handelnde auf verschiedenen Gebieten


und gleichzeitig Objekte in diesen Sachbereichen. Je intensiver dies mit der
Entwicklung der Zeit der Fall ist, desto mehr stellt sich für den Menschen
selbst die Frage nach ihm selbst und seiner Wertigkeit. Franz Kardinal
König, der langjährige Erzbischof von Wien, der einen Großteil seines lan-
gen, fast hundertjährigen Lebens mit vielen Wissenschaftlern verschiede-
236 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

ner Disziplinen in Kontakt stand, hat geradezu mahnend an seinem


Lebensabend oft gemeint, der Mensch sollte sich fragen: „Woher komme
ich? Wohin gehe ich? Und welchen Sinn hat mein Leben?“1 Diese Grund-
frage begleitet, unterschiedlich auch bewusst, die Frage nach der Men-
schenwürde im öffentlichen Recht und in der Wissenschaft von der Politik.
Die Antwort fällt in ihrer Begründung je nach dem Kulturkreis bei aller
Anerkennung der Bedeutung des Menschen und seinem Schutz durch das
öffentliche Recht verschieden aus.
Diese Verschiedenheit zeigt sich schon im Wortgebrauch für den Men-
schen, ob ich ihn als Individuum oder als Person bezeichne. Unter Indivi-
duum versteht man ein einzelnes Lebewesen, als Person wird der Mensch
in seiner Wertigkeit betont und durch ihn tritt ein höherer Anspruch in die
Wirklichkeit.2 Das abendländische Rechtsdenken3 drückte dies im Begriff
der Personhaftigkeit des Menschen aus, wobei das von den Etruskern ver-
mittelte griechische Wort „prosopon“ als Bezeichnung für die Göttermaske
im archäischen Kult und das lateinische Wort „personare“, was soviel wie
hindurchtönen heißt,4 wegweisend waren.

2. Die Würde des Menschen

Diese Personhaftigkeit des Menschen erhielt ihren werthaften Inhalt


durch die Lehre von der Würde des Menschen. Sie hat erste Ansätze ihrer
Idee in der Lehre der griechischen Stoa vom menschlichen Logos, der am
Logos der Weltvernunft Anteil hat und so mit dieser kosmopolitischen

1
Franz Kardinal König, Schlussansprache zum „Fest der Vielfalt“ und zum 95.
Geburtstag von Franz Kardinal König am 24. September 2000 im Dom zu St. Stephan in
Wien, zitiert nach Requiem für Franz Kardinal König am 27. März 2004 im Dom zu St.
Stephan in Wien, S. 19.
2
Siehe Herbert Schambeck, Die Grundrechte im demokratischen Verfassungsstaat, in:
Ordnung im sozialen Wandel, Festschrift für Johannes Messner, hrsg. von Alfred Klose,
Herbert Schambeck, Rudolf Weiler, Valentin Zsifkovits, Berlin 1976, S. 458 ff.
3
Beachte Alfred Verdroß, Abendländische Rechtsphilosophie, ihre Grundlagen und
Hauptprobleme in geschichtlicher Schau, 2. Aufl., Wien 1963.
4
Beachte Siegmund Schlossmann, Persona und proposona in Recht und im christ-
lichen Dogma, Dissertation Kiel 1906, Harry Westermann, Person und Persönlichkeit als
Wert im Zivilrecht, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen,
Heft 47, Köln und Opladen 1957 und Gustav Naß, Person, Persönlichkeit und juristische
Person, Berlin 1964 sowie Robert Spaemann, Personen. Versuche über den Unterschied
zwischen „etwas“ und „jemand“, 2. Aufl., Stuttgart 1998, bes. S. 25 ff. und S. 252 ff.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 237

Weltbetrachtung die Enge der Polis sprengte. Diese Lehre der Stoa war
aber nur auf den geistigen Bereich beschränkt und nicht auf die Politik und
das Recht bezogen; die Lehre der Stoa blieb daher auf die Stellung des
Menschen im Staat ohne Einfluss. Anders wurde dies durch das Christen-
tum, es begründete die Würde des Menschen dadurch metaphysisch, dass
es die Gottesebenbildlichkeit der Menschen lehrte und in dieser die Würde
des Menschen begründete.5
Diese Lehre von der dignitas humana fand ihre Ausführung besonders
durch die Kirchenväter,6 wobei vor allem der Beitrag hiezu in der Schrift
Gregors von Nyssa „De hominis opificio“ hervorgehoben sei. In der Folge
sei auch auf die Lehre vom Eigenwert des Menschen bei Augustinus7 und
bei Thomas von Aquin8 verwiesen und später auch die Spanischen Moral-
theologen des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts, besonders die Schule von Salam-
anca9 mit Francisco de Vitoria und Francisco Suárez – auch mit ihrem Hin-
weis auf das bonum commune humanitatis – genannt. Wir finden bei ihnen
zwar noch keine vollständige Liste der Menschenrechte, wohl ist aber der
innere Gehalt jener Grundrechte bereits entwickelt worden, die spätere
Verfassungsurkunden prägten.10
Mit dieser Lehre von der Teilnahme des Menschen am Reich Gottes11
hat nämlich das Christentum dem Menschen bestimmte Rechte begründet,
„die ihm“, wie der Völkerrechtler und Rechtsphilosoph Alfred Verdross es
schon erklärte, „keine irdische Gemeinschaft entziehen kann“,12 dies trug
dazu bei, dass sie später zu Grundrechten wurden.13

5
Gen 1,26 f., 5,3 und 9,6.
6
Siehe Felix Flückiger, Geschichte des Naturrechts, Zürich 1954, S. 284 ff.
7
Beachte Joseph Mausbach; Die Ethik des heiligen Augustinus, Bd. I, Freiburg i.Br.
1929, S. 155 ff.
8
Vgl. Arthur Fridolin Utz, Recht und Gerechtigkeit, Deutsche Thomas-Ausgabe, Bd.
18, Heidelberg-Graz 1953, S. 494 ff.
9
Dazu Verdroß, Abendländische Rechtsphilosophie, S. 92 ff.
10
Siehe Heribert Franz Köck, Der Beitrag der Schule von Salamanca zur Entwicklung
der Lehre von den Grundrechten, Berlin 1987.
11
Näher Hugo Rahner, Kirche und Staat im frühen Christentum, München 1961.
12
Alfred Verdroß, Die Würde des Menschen in der abendländischen Rechtsphilosophie,
in: Naturordnung in Gesellschaft, Staat, Wirtschaft, Festschrift für Johannes Messner zum
70. Geburtstag, hrsg. von Joseph Höffner, Alfred Verdroß und Francesco Vita, Innsbruck-
Wien-München 1961, S. 353.
13
Näher Herbert Schambeck, Grundrechte in der Lehre der katholischen Kirche, in:
Handbuch der Grundrechte in Deutschland und Europa, Bd. I, hrsg. von Detlef Merten
und Hans-Jürgen Papier, Heidelberg 2004, s. 349 ff.
238 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

In diesem Zusammenhang betonte auch Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger


„die Unbedingtheit, mit der Menschenwürde und Menschenrechte als Wer-
te erscheinen müssen, die jeder staatlichen Rechtssetzung vorangehen.“14

3. Die Grundrechte gegenüber dem Staat

In der Folge wurden die Grundrechte in der Entwicklung des Staats-


rechts zu Rechtsansprüchen gegen die Staaten, die in einem Prozess von
Jahrhunderten15 mit der Demokratisierung und Konstitutionalisierung der
Staatsformen und politischen Systeme von dem Recht einzelner privile-
gierter Stände sich zu Rechten der Bürger und hernach auch aller Men-
schen gegenüber dem Staat und der Völkergemeinschaft16 entwickelten.
Auf diese Weise wurden aus Standesrechten Menschenrechte.17
Als bekanntestes Beispiel für ein solches Standesrecht wird die Magna
Charta Libertatum 1215 König Johann ohne Land genannt, es sei aber
auch beachtet, dass sich schon 1188 die Cortes von Leon, die ständische
Versammlung der Bischöfe, Magnaten und Bürger dieses spanischen Teil-
königreiches von König Alfons IX. bestimmte Rechte, wie die der drei Stän-
de auf Beratung und Mitsprache in allen wichtigen Fragen, die Krieg, Frie-
den, Verträge sowie Unverletzlichkeit des Lebens und der Ehre, des Hauses
und Eigentums sowie aller Einwohner auf Wahrung anerkannter Gewohn-
heitsrechte zusichern ließen.18
Mit diesem verbrieften Recht auf Eigentum, das damals im 12. Jahr-
hundert in Spanien noch ein Standesrecht war, war ein bemerkenswerter
Ansatz zu dem gegeben, was 1690 John Locke in seinen „Two Treatises of
Civil Government“ im Begriff „property“ mit dem Eigentum auch das
Leben und die Freiheit als jeden Einzelnen angeborenes Recht bezeichne-
te. Damit eröffnete er den Weg zum individuellen, nämlich jedem Menschen
zustehenden Recht.

14
Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger, Werte in Zeiten des Umbruchs. Die Herausforderungen
der Zukunft bestehen, Freiburg im Breisgau 2005, S. 85.
15
Schambeck, Die Grundrechte im demokratischen Verfassungsstaat, S. 452 ff.
16
Näher Felix Ermacora; Menschenrechte in der sich wandelnden Welt, Wien 1974.
17
Siehe Gerhard Oestreich; Die Entwicklung der Menschenrechte und Grundfreihei-
ten, in: Die Grundrechte I/1, Berlin 1966, S. 19.
18
Oestreich, a.a.O. S. 19 f. und derselbe, Die Idee der Menschenrechte, 5. Aufl., Berlin
1974, s. 13 ff.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 239

Der Begriff Menschenrechte selbst scheint erstmals von dem aus der
Schule von Salamanca hervorgegangenen Fernando Vasquez de Menchaca
in der praefatio seiner 1559 erschienenen Ausgabe der „Controversiae illus-
tres“ gebraucht; in ihr erklärt er, dass jeder Mensch „jura naturalia, quasi
immutabilia“ besitzt; er lehnte deshalb auch schon damals die Sklaverei als
naturrechtswidrig ab.19

II.

1. Die Grundrechte als Individualrechte

Es ist ein beachtenswerter Lauf der Geschichte, dass die Fortsetzung der
Entwicklung dieser Grundrechte als Individualrechte im Staat und gegenü-
ber dem Staat nicht von England auf den Kontinent übergriff, sondern viel-
mehr der Weg europäischer Grundrechtsordnung im Verfassungsstaat über
die damaligen Kronkolonien Englands in Amerika und den späteren USA
nahm.20 Dabei weist Mary Ann Glendon21 darauf hin, dass John Locke von
„life, liberty and property“ gesprochen hatte, die amerikanischen Revolutio-
naries in der Declaration of Independence 1776 hingegen von „Leben, Frei-
heit und Streben nach Glückseligkeit“22 sprachen. Der Begriff Fraternité, wie
ihn später die Französische Revolution gebrauchte und was wir heute als
Solidarität verstehen, mag zwar in bestimmter Weise der gelebten Realität
der damaligen Amerikaner entsprochen haben, aber nicht deren Vokabular.
Die Gleichheit, welche die Unabhängigkeitserklärung forderte, war erst
nach dem Bürgerkrieg und der Befreiung der Sklaven erreicht.
Da die Rechte der Menschen am Beginn der USA nicht auf alle Ein-
wohner, sondern nur auf die mit Bürgerrecht bezogen waren, hat Paul
Kirchhof zu Recht festgestellt, „dass die Verkünder dieser Menschenrechte
zugleich Sklavenhalter sein konnten“.23

19
Näher Verdroß, Abendländische Rechtsphilosophie, S. 108 ff.
20
Siehe näher Herbert Schambeck, Helmut Widder, Marcus Bermann (Hrsg), Doku-
mente zur Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, Berlin 1992.
21
Mary Ann Glendon, Concepts of the Person in American Law, in dieser Publikation,
Vatikan 2006, S. 2 f.
22
Dokumente, S. 114.
23
Paul Kirchhof, Die Idee der Menschenwürde als Mitte der modernen Verfassungs-
staaten, in dieser Publikation, Vatikan 2006, S. 5.
240 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

Auch die USA und ihre Bevölkerung haben einen eigenen Bewusstsein-
sprozess in Bezug auf die Menschenwürde, deren Erkenntnisse, Weite und
deren Schutz durchgemacht. Man denke an die Rassenfrage, die auch in
anderen Erdteilen, wie in Afrika, besonders in Südafrika, bis in unsere Zeit
reicht, wo doch der Einfluss, wie Nicholas McNally unterstreicht, des
Römischen Rechts und später des Roman-Dutch Law gegeben war.24
Wenn auch die USA nicht in der Weite an Anerkennung und Rechts-
schutz der Menschenwürde in ihrer Geschichte wegweisend waren,
obgleich ihre Gründer aus Familien stammten, welche vor der von
Ungleichheit geprägten Ständegesellschaft europäischer Monarchien
geflüchtet waren, so haben die USA dadurch doch einen bleibenden Beitrag
zur Entwicklung der demokratischen Verfassungsstaatlichkeit und damit
auch zum Schutz der Grundrechte geleistet, dass die nordamerikanischen
Kolonien der englischen Krone sich allmählich im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert
in souveräne Staaten wandelten,25 aus ihren Charters Constitutions wurden
und diese eine Zweiteilung in frame of government, also eine Regelung der
Staatsorganisation, und eine bill or declaration of rights, einen Grund-
rechtsteil, beinhalteten.26
Am Beginn der Verfassungsentwicklung der USA stand eine später bei-
spielgebend gewordene Verbundenheit von Politik, Ethik und Rechtsüber-
zeugung; von ihr schrieb Georg Jelinek: „Nicht hochverräterischen Aufruhr,
sondern Rechtsverteidigung glauben sie zu üben, als sie sich der englischen
Herrschaft entledigen“.27

2. Die Grundrechte im demokratischen Verfassungsstaat

Diese amerikanische Grundhaltung und das Beispiel der Verfassung der


USA von 178728 sind später wegweisend für die Staaten, vor allem Europas
und darüber hinaus geworden. So regte schon die virginische Bill of rights
177629 Joseph de Motier Lafayette zu jener Initiative in der französischen

24
Nicholas J. McNally, The Concept of the Human Person, in: Anglo-American Law, in
dieser Publikation, Vatikan 2006, S. 4.
25
Dokumente, S. 30 ff.
26
Siehe Herbert Schambeck, Der Verfassungsbegriff und seine Entwicklung, in: der-
selbe, Der Staat und seine Ordnung, ausgewählte Beiträge zur Staatslehre und zum Staats-
recht, hrsg. von Johannes Hengstschläger, Wien 2002, S. 45 ff., bes. S. 51 f.
27
Georg Jellinek, Allgemeine Staatslehre, 3. Aufl., 6. Neudruck, Darmstadt 1959, S. 416.
28
Dokumente, S. 166 ff.
29
Dokumente, S. 110 ff.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 241

verfassungsgebenden Nationalversammlung in Paris an, welche am 26.


August 1789 zur Erklärung der Menschen – und Bürgerrechte30 führte. Paul
Kirchhof weist im Anschluss an Hasso Hofmann31 in diesem Zusammen-
hang darauf hin, dass diese „Erklärung der Rechte des Menschen und des
Bürgers“ Frankreichs „die Benachteiligung der Frauen, die Judenemanzi-
pation und die Lage der Farbigen in den französischen Kolonien zunächst
kaum verbessern“32 konnte.
Gleichzeitig möge man nicht übersehen, welch wegweisender Einfluss
von den USA zunächst auf Frankreich, hernach im 19. Jahrhundert von
Frankreich auf Belgien, Deutschland, Österreich sowie andere Staaten in
Europa und darüber hinaus ausging. Waren es anfangs die Grundrechte der
Menschen, insbesondere auch deren Selbstbestimmungsrecht, welche für
die Politik einzelner Staaten bestimmend wurden, so waren es dann auch
die Ideen der Verfassungsstaatlichkeit, der Demokratie und des Födera-
lismus.33 Bei vielen verfassungsrechtlichen Neukodifikationen dienten die
USA damals als Vorbild, dem zu verschiedenen Zeiten in unterschiedlicher
Form mehr oder weniger entsprochen wurde, wie in den letzten mehr als
eineinhalb Jahrzehnten nach dem Ende des Kommunismus und der Tei-
lung Europas auch das Bonner Grundgesetz 1949 für die neuen Verfassun-
gen der postkommunistischen Staaten Mittel- und Osteuropas Vorbildchar-
akter hatte; bei ihnen erwies sich aber der Föderalismus, wie Russland,
Jugoslawien und die Tschechoslowakei zeigten, nicht als erfolgreich und
wegweisend.34 Dazwischen liegen die Erschütterung des öffentlichen und
privaten Lebens mit Niederschlag in der jeweiligen Staatsordnung durch

30
Alfred Voigt, Geschichte der Grundrechte, Stuttgart 1948, S. 195 ff.
31
Hasso Hofmann, Die Entdeckung der Menschenrechte, Schriftenreihe der Juristi-
schen Gesellschaft zu Berlin, Heft 161, Berlin 1999, S. 8.
32
Kirchhof, a.a.O., S. 5.
33
Dazu Klaus Stern, Grundideen europäisch-amerikanischer Verfassungsstaatlichkeit,
Schriftenreihe der Juristischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin, Heft 91, Berlin New York 1984 und
derselbe, Das Grundgesetz im europäischen Verfassungsvergleich, Schriftenreihe der Juris-
tischen Gesellschaft zu Berlin, Heft 164, Berlin 2000.
34
Näher Herbert Schambeck, Politik und Verfassungsordnung postkommunistischer
Staaten Mittel – und Osteuropas, in: derselbe, Zu Politik und Recht, Ansprachen, Reden,
Vorlesungen und Vorträge, hrsg. von den Präsidenten des Nationalrates und des Bundes-
rates, Wien 1999, S. 121 ff., bes. S. 126 ff.; vgl. auch Klaus Stern, Ausstrahlungswirkung des
Grundgesetzes auf ausländische Verfassungen, in: Bundesministerium des Inneren,
Bewährung und Herausforderung – Die Verfassung vor der Zukunft, Dokumentation zum
Verfassungskongress 50 Jahre Grundgesetz/50 Jahre Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Opla-
den 1999, S. 249 ff.
242 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

Ideologien, wie den Kommunismus und den Nationalsozialismus; für


erstere Ideologie waren die Grundrechte nicht Rechte des Einzelnen, son-
dern der Klasse35 und für die letztgenannte Ideologie waren die Grund-
rechte ein Aufstand des Egoismus gegen die Volksgemeinschaft.36

3. Das Rechtsdenken der U.S.A.

Wenn wir den Blick von den politischen Konzepten und Rechtsvorstel-
lungen der Gründungsväter der amerikanischen Verfassung, wie sie so ein-
drucksvoll etwa auch in den Artikeln der Federalist Papers zum Ausdruck
kommen, in die Gegenwart lenken, sehen wir freilich auch immer wieder
neue Herausforderungen für „Concepts of the Reason in American Law“
oder wie man aus allgemeiner Sicht von der „Natur des Menschen“ und der
„Menschenwürde“ sprechen könnte.
Mary Ann Glendon hat in Ihrem Beitrag klar die sehr spezifischen
Anfangsbedingungen herausgearbeitet, die am Beginn der amerikanischen
politischen Praxis und des Verfassungsrechts standen, aber auch gleichzeitig
auf wichtige Weiterentwicklungen von Grundrechtsthemen durch die politi-
sche Praxis und die Judikatur des U.S. Supreme Court verwiesen. Wichtige
Entscheidungen des U.S. Supreme Court zur Rassenfrage, wonach die Ras-
sentrennung in der Schule als „inherently unequal“ gebrandmarkt wurde und
„with all deliberate speed“ die Segregation aufzuheben sei,37 sowie das Bür-
gerrechtsgesetz aus 1964 waren Wegmarken in dieser Entwicklung.
Auch die Frage der Todesstrafe beschäftigte immer wieder die ameri-
kanische Politik und ihr (Verfassung-)Recht, kommen doch darin auch
besonders heikle Aspekte der menschlichen Natur und des Konzepts der
Person im amerikanischen Recht zum Ausdruck.38
Die unterschiedliche Todesstrafenpraxis in den einzelnen Bundesstaa-
ten sowie neuere Entscheidungen des Supreme Court über die Unzulässig-

35
Beachte Herbert Schambeck, Von der Last der Freiheit im Recht und Staat des Wes-
tens und Ostens, Wesen – Wirklichkeit – Widerstände, hrsg. von Otto B. Roegele, Graz
1967, S. 483 ff.
36
Dazu Manfred Friedrich, Geschichte der deutschen Staatsrechtswissenschaft, Berlin
1997, S. 399 ff.
37
Siehe Dokumente, S. 530 ff. und S. 580 ff.
38
Siehe Rede von Gouverneur George H. Ryan an der Juristischen Fakultät der North-
western University of Chicago und die Erklärung von Gouverneurin Jodi Rell vom
7.12.2004 über ihre Entscheidung Michael Ross keinen Aufschub zu gewähren.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 243

keit der Todesstrafe an Geisteskranken einerseits und an Jugendlichen


andererseits lassen hier allerdings neue Bemühungen erkennen, auch in
diesen höchst sensiblen und in der Bevölkerungsmeinung oft hoch emotio-
nalisierten Thematiken zu Lösungen zu kommen, die den Eigenwert der
Person – auch des sündigen Menschen im christlichen Sinne – anerkennt
und rechtlich absichert.
Dass sich schließlich aufgrund neuester Entwicklungen eines weltweit
operierenden Terrorismus auch vielfältige neue Herausforderungen für den
demokratischen Verfassungsstaat im Allgemeinen und seine Freiheiten und
Menschenrechtssicherungen im Besonderen ergeben, soll schon hier
erwähnt werden. Es ist dies aber nicht mehr nur ein Problem, das sich der
amerikanischen Menschenrechtspraxis und Judikatur stellt, sondern das
auch zu gemeinsamen Lösungsanstrengungen in allen Staaten, aber auch
auf der Ebene des internationalen Rechtes führen muss.

4. Naturrecht und Rechtpositivismus

Die Reaktionen auf Entwicklungen von Recht und Staat in autoritären


und totalitären politischen Regimen, welche die Menschenwürde verletzten
und Millionen Menschen die Freiheit sowie das Leben gekostet haben,39
führten zu einer Erneuerung des Rechtsdenkens mit einer Renaissance des
Naturrechts40 und einer weltweiten Anerkennung und einem Schutz der
Freiheit und Würde des Menschen,41 die in den Verfassungen der einzelnen
Staaten in verschiedener Formulierung und Textierung Niederschlag
gefunden haben. Meist sind Freiheit und Würde des Menschen in Verfas-
sungen, die von einem materialen Rechtsdenken geprägt sind,42 in einem
Grundrechtekatalog festgehalten, der sich am Beginn, der Mitte oder am
Schluss eines Verfassungsgesetzes befindet.
Eine solche Wertigkeit ist dann nicht gegeben, wenn eine Staatsrechtsord-
nung, wie zum Beispiel die Österreichs von einem Rechtspositivismus

39
Siehe Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panne, Andrzej Paszkowski, Karel
Bartosek und Jean-Louis Margolin, Das Schwarzbuch des Kommunismus, Unterdrückung,
Verbrechen und Terror, 2. Aufl., München Zürich 1998 und Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung
der europäischen Juden, Frankfurt a.M. 1990.
40
Beachte Heinrich Rommen, Die ewige Wiederkehr des Naturrechts, 2. Aufl., Mün-
chen 1947.
41
Näher Menschenrechte – Ihr internationaler Schutz, 4. Aufl., München 1998.
42
Dazu Verdroß, Abendländische Rechtsphilosophie, S. 215 ff.
244 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

gekennzeichnet ist, in dem zwar die Rechtswege angegeben, aber keine Wer-
teaussagen getroffen werden. So enthält das österreichische Bundes-Verfas-
sungsgesetz 1920 keinen eigenen Grundrechtekatalog, der wurde aus der
Dezemberverfassung 1867 aus dem Staatsrecht der Monarchie in das der
Republik übernommen; es verwendet nicht den Begriff Grundrecht und auch
nicht den der Würde des Menschen. Der Verfassungsgerichtshof und der
Oberste Gerichtshof in Österreich gehen aber davon aus, wie auch Walter
Berka43 hervorhebt, dass die Menschenwürde einen ungeschriebenen „allge-
meinen Wertungsgrundsatz“ der österreichischen Rechtsordnung darstellt.44
Anders als in Österreich, wo im Rechtsdenken der Rechtspositivismus
der Reinen Rechtslehre Hans Kelsens45 prägend war und ist, hat die Bundes-
republik Deutschland – nach den Erfahrungen mit den nationalsozialisti-
schen Unrechtsregime – „Die Würde des Menschen“ bereits am Beginn des
Art 1 gesetzt; er lautet „Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar. Sie zu
achten und zu schützen ist Verpflichtung aller staatlicher Gewalt“. Diese
Bestimmung zählt nach Art. 79 (3) GG auch zu den Grundsätzen, deren
Änderung unzulässig ist.
In einer weiteren Weise gibt das deutsche Verfassungsrecht ein Vorbild,
nämlich mit dem Text seiner Präambel, sie enthält nämlich eine Invocatio
Dei mit den Worten: „Im Bewusstsein seiner Verantwortung vor Gott und
den Menschen ...“.

III.

1. Präambel mit Gottesbezug

Eine solche Präambel mit Gottesbezug,46 die in Deutschland als Reak-


tion auf das NS-Regime entstanden ist, drückt eine besondere Verant-
wortung aus, beschränkt die politische Willensbildung einer Demokratie

43
Walter Berka, Lehrbuch Grundrechte, Wien New York 2000, S. 80, siehe dazu auch
Klaus Burger, Das Verfassungsprinzip der Menschenwürde in Österreich, Frankfurt am
Main 2002.
44
VfSlg 13.635/1993; OGH 14.4.1994, 10 Ob 501/94, Juristische Blätter 1995, Heft 1,
S. 46 ff.
45
Siehe Hans Kelsen, Reine Rechtslehre, Einleitung in die rechtswissenschaftliche
Problematik, Leipzig und Wien 1934, 2. Aufl. 1960, Nachdruck Wien 1992, dazu Herbert
Schambeck, Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Rechtslehre Hans Kelsens, Juristische Blätter
1984, Heft 5/6, S. 126 ff.
46
Siehe Herbert Schambeck, Gott und das Verfassungsrecht, L’Osservatore Romano,
Wochenzeitung in deutscher Sprache, 16. Januar 2004, Nr. 3, S. 12.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 245

und nimmt einen präpositiven Bezug in das Verfassungsrecht auf, ohne,


wie es Alexander Hollerbach feststellte, „daß die Bürger verpflichtet sind,
an Gott zu glauben“.47
Eine ähnliche Offenheit, die mit einem wertorientierten Grundsatzden-
ken verbunden ist, drückt sich in der Präambel der Verfassung Polens 1997
aus; sie nimmt Bezug auf „diejenigen, die an Gott glauben, welcher Quelle
der Wahrheit, der Gerechtigkeit, des Guten und des Schönen ist, wie auch
diejenigen, die diesen Glauben nicht teilen und diese universellen Werte
aus anderen Quellen ableiten“.48
Mit dieser letztgenannten Formulierung eines Präambeltextes will
Polen der Pluralität der gegenwärtigen Gesellschaft gerecht werden. Die
erforderliche Offenheit des Verfassungsrechts für alle im Staat verlangt
dies; sie setzt einen Minimalkonsens an Grundwerten in einem Staat vor-
aus und sollte sich auch in den Grundrechten ausdrücken. Da weltweit
gesehen nach den Constitutions of Countries of die World, Stand Januar
2004 von 191 Staatsverfassungen 143 auch eine Präambel und von diesen
65 Gottesbezüge haben, bietet sich hier ein weites Gesichtsfeld.
Die Geschichte zeigt, Präambeln49 beginnend mit dem Gesetzeswerk
des Königs von Babylon Hammurabi und reicht über die Verfassung der
USA 1787 und die französische Menschenrechtserklärung 1789 bis zu den
zwei Präambeln in dem Verfassungsvertrag der EU unserer Tage. Eine Prä-
ambel soll in einem Staat möglichst alle zur Sozialverantwortung hinfüh-
ren und auch einleitend die Wertigkeit der Staatsorganisation erklären,
ohne in ihrer Allgemeinheit an Formulierung ein Maß an Normativität
erlangen zu können, die zu einem einklagbaren Rechtsanspruch führt.
Ist eine Präambel mit einem Gottesbezug verbunden, nimmt sie einen
präpositiven Bezug in das Verfassungsrecht auf, der die politische Willens-
bildung besonders verpflichtet, ja in bestimmter Weise auch beschränkt.50

47
Alexander Hollerbach, Grundlagen des Staatskirchenrechts, in: Handbuch des
Staatsrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, hrsg. von Josef Isensee und Paul Kirchhof,
Band VI, Heidelberg 1989, S. 518.
48
Die Verfassungen Mittel – und Osteuropas, hrsg. von Herwig Roggemann, Berlin
1999, S. 675 und dazu Boguslaw Banaszak, Einführung in das polnische Verfassungsrecht,
Wroclaw 2003.
49
Näher Peter Häberle, Präambeln in Text und Kontext von Verfassungen, in: Demo-
kratie in Anfechtung und Bewährung, Festschrift für Johannes Broermann, hrsg. von
Joseph Listl und Herbert Schambeck, Berlin 1982, S. 211 ff.
50
Siehe Helmut Goerlich, Wolfgang Huber, Karl Lehmann, Verfassung ohne Gottesbe-
zug? Zu einer aktuellen europäischen Kontroverse, Leipzig 2004 und Christian Konrath,
246 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

Im Zusammenhang mit der in einem Verfassungstext anerkannten Men-


schenwürde, wie dies im Art. 1 der Deutschen Verfassung im Grundgesetz
gegeben ist, stellt der Gottesbezug, also die Invocatio Dei, eine Begründung
für die dignitas humana dar. Transzendenz und Immanenz, aber auch
Glaube und Politik verbinden sich.
Je nach der Religionszugehörigkeit wird es ebenso verschiedene Gottes-
Verständnisse wie nach dem politischen Bewusstsein und der kulturellen
Entwicklung auch verschieden geprägte Verfassungssysteme geben.
Mit der Normierung der Menschenwürde im Verfassungsrecht51 wird
ein präpositiver Bezug hergestellt, dessen Wahrnehmung sich als Aufgabe
auch der politischen Wissenschaft stellt. Diesen präpositiven Bezug zeigt
auch das Zeitwort „anerkennen“ zur Menschenwürde. Anerkennen kann
man ja nur etwas als bereits vorhanden Angenommenes!52

2. Die Begründung der Menschenrechte

Die Einsicht in diesen präpositiven Bezug der Menschenwürde und ihrer


Begründung der Menschenrechte war zu verschiedenen Zeiten unterschied-
lich. Nach zwei Weltkriegen, die im 20. Jahrhundert von Europa ausgingen,
hat Europa gegenüber der Welt eine besondere Bringschuld. Die Tradition
des Rechts, vor allem auch die Wirkkraft des römischen Rechts, das zeigt
sich auch in den Ausführungen von Nicholas McNally und von Francesco
P. Casavola, führen zu einer viele Nationen und ihre Rechtsordnung beein-
flussenden Entwicklung, die sich im europäischen Recht dokumentiert.
Treffend hat schon vor Jahren Helmut Coing seinen publizierten Vortrag
über die Europäischen Gemeinsamkeiten in Vergangenheit, Gegenwart
und Zukunft betitelt „Von Bologna bis Brüssel”.53
Auf diesem Weg europäischer Rechtsentwicklung ereignete sich in Bezug
auf Begriffe des öffentlichen Rechts und der politischen Wissenschaft eine
Säkularisierung und Profanierung alten christlichen Gedankengutes; besonders

Vermittlung und Erinnerung, Anmerkungen zu den Präambeldiskussionen in der EU und


in Österreich, österr. Archiv für recht und religion 2004, S. 189 ff.
51
Beachte Klaus Stern, Das Staatsrecht der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Band IV/1,
§ 97 Die Würde des Menschen, München 2006, S. 3 ff.
52
Dazu Gottfried Dietze, Über die Formulierung der Menschenrechte, Berlin 1956.
53
Helmut Coing, Von Bologna bis Brüssel, Europäische Gemeinsamkeiten in Vergan-
genheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft, Kölner Juristische Gesellschaft, Band 9, Bergisch Glad-
bach-Köln 1989, dazu auch Herbert Schambeck, Rechtsbewusstsein und Rechtssicherheit
im integrierten Europa, in derselbe, Zu Politik und Recht, S. 213 ff.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 247

zeigte sich dies in den Forderungen der französischen Revolution nach Frei-
heit, Gleichheit und Brüderlichkeit.
Welcher ideengeschichtlicher und welcher normativer Niederschlag der
Menschenwürde im Verfassungsrecht der einzelnen Staaten auch immer zu
eigen sein mag, stets zeigt sich, wie es Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde schon
formulierte, dass der freiheitliche säkularisierte Staat von Voraussetzungen
lebt, „ die er selbst nicht garantieren kann“.54 Dazu zählt die Identität des
Menschen, von der Paul Kirchhof in seinem eben erschienenen Buch „Die
Erneuerung des Staates – eine lösbare Aufgabe“ feststellte: „Wäre die Iden-
tität des Menschen nunmehr biologisch–medizinisch nicht mehr gleich
bleibend vorgegeben, verlöre der Verfassungsstaat ein Axiom, auf das der
freiheitliche Rechtsstaat und die Demokratie aufbauen“.55
Der freiheitliche Rechtsstaat und mit ihm auch die demokratische Ver-
fassungsstaatlichkeit müssen sich dabei verschiedenen Aufgaben und Pro-
blemen stellen, welche den Bereich des normativen Rechts betreffen, wie
etwa dem, in welchen Rechtsformen die Menschenwürde in Grundrechten
geschützt werden; es bieten sich neben der klassischen Form des subjektiv
öffentlichen Rechts, die Einrichtungsgarantie, der Programmsatz und die
Organisationsvorschrift an. Mit diesen möglichen Rechtsformen der Grund-
rechte sind auch unterschiedliche Konsequenzen für den Einzelnen und den
Staat verbunden, wie etwa bei einem subjektiven öffentlichen Recht der bei
einem Verfassungsgerichtshof einklagbare Rechtsanspruch des Einzelnen
oder eine bloße Sozialgestaltungsempfehlung an den Gesetzgeber.

3. Der Schutz der Menschenrechte

Als besonderen Fortschritt kann es angesehen werden, dass es einen


Schutz der Menschenwürde und der Grundfreiheiten gibt, welcher vom
Einzelnen sowohl gegenüber dem Staat als auch in der internationalen
Gemeinschaft geltend gemacht werden kann. Beginnend mit der UNO-
Menschenrechtsdekleration 1948, für die René Cassin prägend war, der
übrigens gegenüber Jean Monnet in der Krypta des Pantheon seine letzte
Ruhestätte gefunden hat, wurde die Menschenwürde teil der Völkerrechts-
ordnung und erhielt der Einzelne in der Folge einen Rechtsschutz. Die

54
Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde, Staat, Gesellschaft, Freiheit, Studien zur Staatstheorie
und zum Verfassungsrecht, Frankfurt a. M. 1976, S. 60.
55
Paul Kirchhof, Die Erneuerung des Staates – eine lösbare Aufgabe, Freiburg im
Breisgau 2006, S. 23 f.
248 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

Wahrung bestimmter Grundfreiheiten war nicht bloß eine inner-, sondern


auch zwischenstaatliche Angelegenheit geworden. Das begann schon im
19. Jahrhundert mit dem ethnischen Minderheitenschutz und wurde in der
Folge auch auf andere Rechtsgebiete übertragen und so erweitert.
In diesem Zusammenhang sei auch an die Konferenz, heute Organisa-
tion für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa (KSZE, OSZE) mit
ihren Schlussakte vom 1. August 1975, in Helsinki unter Vorsitz von Agos-
tino Casaroli unterzeichnet, erinnert, in denen die Menschenrechte und
Grundfreiheiten, einschließlich der Gedanken –, Gewissens –, Religions –
und Überzeugungsfreiheit als Prinzip anerkannt wurden und seit der eine
Intervention aus humanitären Gründen, die ein Teilnehmerstaat bei einem
anderen für erforderlich erachtet, nicht mehr als a priori als Einmischung
in die inneren Angelegenheiten eines Staates angesehen werden kann.56
Dieser Fortschritt war wegweisend und begünstigend für die spätere Dissi-
dentenbewegung, die zum Ende des Kommunismus und der Teilung Euro-
pas, führte, wozu Papst Johannes Paul II. viel beitrug.
Eigene und fremde Staaten konnten von Einzelnen und anderen Staa-
ten zur Einhaltung der Menschenrechte belangt werden;57 besonders sei auf
das heute so aktuelle Asylrecht verwiesen.58

IV.

1. Der Freiheitsbezug der Grundrechte

Die Wahrung der Menschenwürde führt auch zu einer Erweiterung und


bisweilen Überschreitung des rechtlich Normierbaren, sie verlangt nämlich
kulturelle, wirtschaftliche und soziale Voraussetzungen zu ihrer Achtung

56
Siehe Helmut Liedermann, Konferenz über Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in
Europa (KSZE), ein kontinuierlicher Prozess, in: Pro Fide et Justitia, Festschrift für Agos-
tino Kardinal Casaroli zum 70. Geburtstag, hrsg. von Herbert Schambeck, Berlin 1984, S.
489 ff., bes. S. 492 und Agostino Kardinal Casaroli, Wegbereiter zur Zeitenwende, Letzte
Beiträge, hrsg. von Herbert Schambeck, Berlin 1999, S. 35 ff.
57
Dazu Peter Fischer-Heribert Franz Köck, Völkerrecht, das Recht der universellen
Staatengemeinschaft, 6. Aufl., Wien 2004, S. 245 ff.
58
Näher Kay Hailbronner, Der Staat und der Einzelne als Völkerrechtssubjekt, in:
Michael Bothe, Rudolf Dolzer, Eckard Klein, Philip Kunig, Meinhard Schröder, Wolfgang
Graf Vitzthum, Völkerrecht, 3. Auflage, S. 213 ff., Nr. 217 ff., bes. S. 230 ff., Nr. 284 ff. und
Herbert Schambeck, Statement Österreich, in: Zeitgemäßes Zuwanderung – und Asylrecht
– ein Problem der Industriestaaten, hrsg. von Klaus Stern, Berlin 2003, S. 201 ff.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 249

und damit liberale, demokratische sowie soziale Grundrechte, die wieder


mit unterschiedlichen Freiheitsbezügen, nämlich Freiheiten von, in und
durch den Staat verbunden sind. Dabei möge man nicht den Unterschied
im Freiheitsverständnis der USA und Europa übersehen. Das amerikani-
sche Freiheitsverständnis geht von einer Freiheit vom Staat aus und ist auf
eine staatsfreie Sphäre gerichtet; die Freiheit im europäischen Staat
schließt hingegen auch insoferne die Freiheit durch den Staat, vor dem
man nicht mehr wie früher Angst hat, ein, als von ihm die Schaffung all
jener Voraussetzungen erwartet wird, die zur Nutzung der Freiheit für
erforderlich angesehen werden.
Im technologisierten Industriezeitalter ist es nämlich auch notwendig,
dass der Einzelne diese Freiheiten nicht nur in verschiedenen Bezügen
erschlossen erhält, sondern dass er sie auch als gesunder Mensch nutzen
kann, was den inneren und den äußeren Umweltschutz59 verlangt. Dies
führt auch allgemein zu jener Verbundenheit, die Nicholas McNally speziell
im Hinblick auf das englische Recht als „interplay“ zwischen Recht, Reli-
gion und Moral festgestellt hat.60 Dabei kann dies zu unterschiedlichen
Wertigkeiten aus der Sicht verschiedener Gebiete führen, wie z.B. im Sexu-
albereich, und sich auch ein Bereiche überschreitender Einfluss ergibt.
Paul Kirchhof weist in diesem Zusammenhang mit Recht darauf hin, dass
„die Rechtsbegriffe des Gewissens, des guten Glaubens, der Ehrbarkeit, der
Nächstenliebe und Barmherzigkeit, der Vorwurf des unsozialen Verhaltens,
damit das dritte Ideal der modernen Demokratie, die Brüderlichkeit, und
die moderne Sozialstaatlichkeit ... in dieser christlich geprägten Rechtsord-
nung ihre Wurzeln“61 haben.

2. Das Reiben der Grundrechte

Trotz dieser gemeinsamen Wurzeln in der Menschenwürde und ihrem


christlichen Ursprung kann es zu einem Reiben der Grundrechte kommen,
wie etwa dem Umweltschutz als existentiellem Grundrecht mit dem Schutz

59
Näher Herbert Schambeck, Humanitärer und ökologischer Umweltschutz als Auf-
trag für die staatliche und internationale Ordnung, in: Technologische Entwicklung im
Brennpunkt von Ethik, Fortschrittsglauben und Notwendigkeit, hrsg. Von Hans Giger,
Hermann Lübke, Herbert Schambeck und Hugo Tschirky, Bern 2002, S. 347 ff.
60
Nicholas McNally, a.a.O., S. 3.
61
Kirchhof, Die Idee der Menschenwürde als Mitte der modernen Verfassungsstaaten,
S. 9.
250 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

des Eigentums als wirtschaftlichem Grundrecht oder zwischen einem sozi-


alen Grundrecht und der Unternehmerfreiheit. Soll die Marktwirtschaft
auch eine soziale sein, was vielfach durch Verfassungen angestrebt wird,
gilt es, dies zu beachten!
Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger hat schon darauf hingewiesen, dass es „kon-
kurrierende Menschenrechte“62 gibt, „etwa im Fall des Gegeneinanders zwi-
schen Freiheitswillen der Frau und dem Lebensrecht des ungeborenen Kin-
des. Was Diskriminationsverbot heißt, wird immer mehr ausgeweitet und
so kann das Diskriminationsverbot immer mehr zur Einschränkung der
Meinungs-, ja der Religionsfreiheit werden.“63

3. Grundrechte und Grundpflichten

Im Hinblick auf die soziale Natur des Menschen, die wegweisend für sei-
ne Persönlichkeitsentfaltung und mit Grundlage für die Gesellschaft sowie
den Staat ist, sei nicht übersehen, dass die Würde des Menschen sowohl
ihren Schutz in Grundrechten wie auch ihre Verwirklichung in Grundpflich-
ten verlangt. In den päpstlichen Lehräußerungen wurde dieser Zusammen-
hang auch verdeutlicht. So hat Papst Johannes XXIII. 1963 in „Pacem in
terris“ (Nr. 27) auf die „unauflösliche Beziehung zwischen Rechten und
Pflichten in derselben Person“ hingewiesen, betont Papst Paul VI. 1971 in
„Octogesima adveniens“ (Nr. 24) „den unlöslichen Zusammenhang zwi-
schen den eigenen Rechten und den Pflichten gegenüber den anderen“ und
Joseph Kardinal Ratzinger 2004 es „müsste heute die Lehre von den Men-
schenrechten um eine Lehre von den Menschenpflichten und von den
Grenzen des Menschen ergänzt werden.“64
Gerade der moderne Sozialstaat mit seiner Mehrzweckeverwendung
verlangt die ausgewogene Erfassung von Rechten und Pflichten zur Wah-
rung der Menschenwürde. Das Verlangen an den Staat und die Leistung für
den Staat sollten sich die Wage halten!
Im positiven Recht haben diese Grundpflichten unterschiedliche Aus-
prägungen erhalten. In diesem Zusammenhang sei in historischer Sicht auf

62
Joseph Ratzinger, Europa in der Krise der Kulturen, in: Marcello Pera – Joseph Rat-
zinger, Ohne Wurzeln. Der Relativismus und die Krise der europäischen Kultur, Augsburg
2005, S. 70.
63
Ratzinger, a.a.O.
64
Joseph Ratzinger, Was die Welt zusammenhält. Vorpolitische moralische Grundla-
gen eines freiheitlichen Staates, in: Jürgen Habermas – Joseph Ratzinger, Dialektik der
Säkularisierung. Über Vernunft und Religion, Freiburg Basel Wien 2005, S.51.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 251

die Verfassung Frankreichs von 1795 verwiesen, die neben der Erklärung
der Rechte auch eine Erklärung der Pflichten der Bürger enthielt.
Die Erklärung der Grundrechte hat staatlich und international eine
genauere und breitere Ausführung erhalten als die der Pflichten, zu diesen
sind vor allem die Wahl –, Wehrdienst – und Steuerpflicht zu zählen. Im
Zuge der Entwicklung zum Wirtschafts – und Sozialstaat ist die Sozial-
pflichtigkeit der Wirtschaftsrechte, insbesondere des Eigentums deutlich
geworden. Sozialpflichtigkeit von Grundrechten und soziale Grundrechte
bestehen mit den klassischen Grundrechten, wie es die liberalen und demo-
kratischen Grundrechte sind, neben – und miteinander; es kommt aber dar-
auf an, dass diese in einer dem gemeinsamen Menschenbild angepassten
Weise aufeinander abgestimmt werden, was besonders in Bezug auf das
Verhältnis von Grundrechtswert und Grundrechtsform wichtig ist.65
Die Menschenwürde verlangt einen Schutz, der zeit – und ortsbedingt ist
und somit von Staat zu Staat verschieden sein kann. Das zeigt sich in den
Bereichen des öffentlichen Rechts und der politischen Wissenschaften aus
verschiedenen Erdteilen, die in den einzelnen Kontinenten nicht eine glei-
che, sondern verschiedene kulturelle, politische, rechtliche, wirtschaftliche
und soziale Entwicklung nehmen, die sich auch im Verfassungsrecht und
mit diesem in der gesamten Rechtsordnung jeweils ausdrückt.

4. Der Rechtsschutz des Lebens

Neben diesen Unterschiedlichkeiten, die allerdings ein Mindestmaß an


Rechtsschutz der Menschenwürde zu achten und bewahren haben, gibt es
für alle Verfassungsstaaten sich gleich stellende Notwendigkeiten des
Rechtsschutzes der Würde des Menschen von Beginn des Lebens mit der
Zeugung bis zum Heimgang durch Tod,66 was die Abtreibung, das Klonen,67
die Todesstrafe und die aktive Sterbehilfe in gleicher Weise verbietet.

65
Siehe dazu u.a. Herbert Schambeck, Grundrechte und Sozialordnung, Gedanken zur
europäischen Sozialordnung, Berlin 1969, bes. S. 95 ff. und S. 120 ff.; derselbe, Die Grund-
rechte im demokratischen Verfassungsstaat, S. 493 ff. und Friedrich Koja, Allgemeine
Staatslehre, Wien 1993, S. 344 f.
66
Beachte Papst Johannes Paul II., Respekt vor der Menschenwürde in jeder Phase des
Lebens, L’Osservatore Romano, Wochenausgabe in deutscher Sprache vom 4. März 2005,
35. Jahrgang, Nr. 9, S. 7.
67
Siehe Markus Hengstschläger, Das ungeborene menschliche Leben und die moder-
ne Biomedizin. Was kann man, was darf man?, Wien 2001; Juan de Dios Vial Correa-Elio
Sgreccia, The dignity of human procreation and reproductive technolgies: anthropological
252 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

Unter Sterbehilfe ist die Hilfe oder der Beistand einem Sterbenden
gegenüber gemeint. Als aktive Sterbehilfe stellt sie insofern eine Hilfe zum
Sterben dar, als sie entweder das Leben des Sterbenden direkt verkürzt, um
dessen Leiden zu beenden; oder als indirekte Sterbehilfe, seine Schmerzen
zu lindern sucht, ohne dabei die mögliche Verkürzung des Lebens direkt zu
wollen. Von dieser Hilfe beim Sterben ist die passive Sterbehilfe zu unter-
scheiden; sie besteht in einem Unterlassen von lebensverlängernden Maß-
nahmen bei einem Sterbenden.
Während direkte Sterbehilfe als Tötung abzulehnen ist, kann die indi-
rekte Sterbehilfe akzeptiert werden, wenn die Schmerzlinderung ethisch
erlaubt ist, zwischen der Schmerzlinderung und der Lebensverkürzung ein
annehmbares Verhältnis besteht und die Lebensverkürzung nur eine nicht
gewollte Nebenfolge ist.
Die passive Sterbehilfe ist ethisch erlaubt, wenn die unterlassenen
lebensverlängernden Maßnahmen ein für den Sterbenden subjektiv nicht
mehr zu ertragendes Leiden in sinnloser Weise nur verlängern würden, das
dann zu erwartende Dasein menschenunwürdig wäre und der Sterbende
selbst eine Lebensverlängerung nicht wünscht, dieses Verlangen aber ver-
nünftigerweise selbst nicht mehr stellen kann.

5. Die Bedeutung der Ehe und Familie

Der Rechtsschutz der Menschenwürde lässt auch in unserer Zeit ihre


Grenzen erkennen, vor allem dort, wo das positive Recht die Rechtswege
aufzeigt und eröffnet, ihr nutzendes Beschreiten aber ein freiwilliges in
Selbstverantwortung ist, wie etwa, was die Grundlagen der Gesellschaft und
mit ihr des Staates betrifft, nämlich die Ehe als eine auf Dauer bezogene
Lebensgemeinschaft zweier Menschen verschiedenen Geschlechts und die
Familie. Diese Grundlagen sind in vielen Teilen nicht mehr gegeben. Die
Zahl der alleinerziehenden, alleinverdienenden, oft teilzeitbeschäftigten
Mütter nimmt ebenso zu wie die der Scheidungen und Lebenspartner-
schaften auf Zeit und die Partnerschaft gleichgeschlechtlicher Personen.

and ethical aspects. Proceedings of the tenth assembly of the Pontificial Academy for Life,
Vatican 2004 sowie Jens Kersten, Das Klonen von Menschen, eine verfassungs-, europa-
und völkerrechtliche Kritik, Tübingen 2004 und die Dekleration der UNO-Generalver-
sammlung vom 9. März 2005, welche jegliches Klonen mit der Menschenwürde unverein-
bar erklärte; dazu Kathpress Tagesdienst Nr. 57 vom 9.3.2005, S. 13 f.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 253

Als Konsultor des Päpstlichen Rates für die Familie habe ich schon am
19. November 2004 bei der 16. Plenarversammlung des Päpstlichen Rates
für die Familie im Vatikan darauf hingewiesen, wie sehr es auch die Wür-
de des Menschen verletzt, wenn sich bei Ehe und Familie Gewissensan-
spruch und Rechtspflicht, die sich ergänzen sollten, es aber leider nicht
mehr ausreichend tun, widersprechen. So erweist es sich nämlich nur all
zu oft, dass nicht alles, was der Ordnung würdig wäre, auch des positiven
Rechts fähig ist; z.B. sich auf einen Mitmenschen verlassen zu können, auf
ein menschliches Miteinander, auch auf Liebe zu vertrauen sowie ein Ja
zum Kind in Ehe und Familie zu sagen. Dies ist auch in Österreich68 nicht
der Fall, wo 43 von 100 geschlossenen Ehen geschieden werden; 88 Prozent
all dieser Scheidungen erfolgten in beiderseitigem Einvernehmen, dabei
waren 36 Prozent dieser geschiedenen Ehen kinderlos!
Solche Situationen des Lebens sind gleichzeitig eine wichtige pastorale
Aufgabe und ein großes soziales Problem. Deshalb war es verdienstvoll, dass
Mary Ann Glendon am 7. März 2005 in der 49. Sitzung des Ausschusses der
UNO über die Stellung der Frau in New York darauf hinwies, dass die hohe
Scheidungsrate und die Mutterschaft alleinstehender Frauen „neue For-
men der Armut“ und „neue Bedrohungen für das menschliche Leben und
seine Würde“ erzeugen. Auch das 2004 vom Päpstlichen Rat „Justitia et
Pax“ herausgegebene Kompendium der Soziallehre der Kirche weist auf
den Zusammenhang von Selbst – und Sozialverantwortung, Ehe, Familie,
Staat und Völkergemeinschaft hin.69
Wir sind gewöhnt, die Wahrung der Menschenwürde und ihren Rechts-
schutz mit gerichtlicher Prüfung vor allem im Verhältnis von Gesetzgebung
und Vollziehung zu beachten, dass kein Gerichtsurteil und Verwaltungsbe-
scheid grundrechtswidrig ist. Die auf Hans Kelsen zurückgehende, von
Österreich ausgehende Normenkontrolle der Verfassungsgerichte bemüht
sich um diese Verfassungsmäßigkeit allen Staatshandelns.
Die Würde des Menschen stellt sich als Problem aber schon in der Ich-
und Du-Begegnung sowie in der Beziehung zweier Menschen sowie dem
Miteinander im privaten und öffentlichen Leben, in dem oft Formlosigkeit
nur eine milde Form des Terrors ist!

68
Beachte Herbert Schambeck, Zur Bedeutung von Ehe und Familie für Gesellschaft
und Staat (ein österreichischer Beitrag), Familia et Vita, Vatikan Anno IX, Nr. 3 2004/1
2005, S. 185 ff.
69
Siehe Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine
of the Church, Vatican 2004, bes. S. 123 ff, S. 217 ff.
254 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

V.

1. Die individuelle und soziale Seite der Menschenwürde

Die Wahrung der Menschenwürde beginnt in individuellen Bereichen und


setzt sich im Sozialen fort. Die Menschen sollten sich als Personen unter-
einander so achten, wie es im Verhältnis von Einzelmensch und Staat in
einer ausgewogenen Verfassungsordnung von Grundrechten und Grund-
pflichten wünschenswert ist. Dazu treten noch neben den Ansprüchen des
Einzelmenschen an den Staat auch solche von diesem auf internationaler
Ebene, wie das Individualbeschwerdeverfahren der Europäischen Men-
schenrechtskonvention vom 4. November 1950, und die eines Staates
gegenüber den anderen, etwa als Schutzmacht zum Minderheitenschutz
oder nach Korb III der Europäischen Sicherheitskonferenz zur Wahrung
der Menschenrechte auf.
Auf diese Weise sind heute die Menschenrechte Grundlage der Staats-
ordnung und Völkergemeinschaft, Beurteilungsmaßstab im öffentlichen
Recht und auch der politischen Wissenschaft geworden. Der Verfassungs-
staat gibt die Rechtswege an, ihre Nutzung und ihr Gebrauch aber ist eine
jeweilige Entscheidung auf dem Weg der Verfassungskonkretisierung.
Das Verfassungsrecht ist, wie schon Adolf Merkl sagte, kodifizierte Poli-
tik und die modernen Verfassungen sind, wie es Kirchhof ausdrückt, „das
Gedächtnis der Demokratie, das die Mindestanforderungen menschlichen
Zusammenlebens rechtsverbindlich regelt“.70

2. Die Gefahr des Terrors

Neben dem Rechtsleben wird aber in zunehmendem Maße das öffentli-


che Leben in Staaten sowie im internationalen Leben durch eine überra-
schende Gewaltausübung belastet, die mit der Vorhersehbarkeit und Bere-
chenbarkeit auch der kontroversiellen Politik, wie sie durch den Krieg
erfahrbar ist, nicht vergleichbar ist, nämlich der bereits genannte Terror.71
Seine Dimensionen erreichen ein Ausmaß, das bisher nicht vorstellbar war
und die Menschenwürde in sehr tragischer Form geradezu vernichtend ver-
letzt. Papst Benedikt XVI. hat auf „diese Gefahr durch den organisierten

70
Kirchhof, Die Erneuerung des Staates, S. 29.
71
Dazu Eckhart Klein, Christian Hacker, Bernd Grzeszick, Der Terror, der Staat und das
Recht, mit einem Beitrag hrsg. von Josef Isensee, Berlin 2004.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 255

Terrorismus, der sich inzwischen weltweit ausbreitet“,72 hingewiesen und


betont: „Die Ursachen dafür sind zahlreich und komplex; nicht zuletzt
gehören dazu die mit irrigen religiösen Auffassungen vermengten ideologi-
schen und politischen Gründe“.73
Im Unterschied zum Krieg mit dem ius in bello74 erkennt die Herrschaft
des Terrorismus keine rechtlichen Regelungen; das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Je
unvorhersehbarer, unberechenbarer und brutaler der Terror zum Einsatz
kommt, umso erfolgreicher erscheint er. Er ist Grenzen der Staaten und
Kontinente übersteigend. Durch den Terror wird die Menschenwürde mit
Furcht und Schrecken gefährdet sowie verletzt und es wird versucht, Men-
schen zu töten, die selbst unschuldig sind.
Die Gründe für den Terrorismus sind unterschiedlich, sie können par-
tei- oder machtpolitische Ansprüche sein oder auf religiöse, weltanschauli-
che und ideologische Einstellungen zurückzuführen sein. So wie einstens
der Jakobinismus die verzerrt radikale Form der Demokratie war, ist der
Terrorismus eine radikalisierte Form der politischen Auseinandersetzung
mit dem Pluralismus in Gesellschaft und Staat, die in jeder Weise abzuleh-
nen ist. Auch das Kompendium der kirchlichen Soziallehre verurteilt den
Terrorismus in „absolutester Weise“!75 Er sät Hass, Tod und Rache und zei-
ge eine „totale Verachtung“ des menschlichen Lebens. Terrorakte können
durch keine Motivation gerechtfertigt werden; sie sind ein Angriff auf die
gesamte Menschheit. Aus diesem Grund gibt es nach dem Compendium ein
Recht auf Verteidigung, das aber nicht auf das gesamte Volk ausgedehnt
werden darf, aus dem etwa eine Terrorgruppe stammt.
Es ist im Lichte der Eschatologie der Geschichte wirklich bedenkens-
wert, dass dieser Terrorismus nach dem Ende des Kommunismus und der
Teilung Europas sowie des sogenannten kalten Krieges die Freiheit, Sicher-
heit und Würde des Menschen bedroht, und das in einer Zeit, in der im Jahr
2004 im Kompendium der Soziallehre der Kirche in Erinnerung gerufen
wird: „Die letzte Quelle der Menschenrechte findet sich nicht im bloßen
Willen der menschlichen Wesen, nicht in der Wirklichkeit des Staates, nicht

72
Ansprache Papst Benedikt XVI. am 9. Januar 2006, Der Einsatz für den Frieden
eröffnet neue Hoffnungen, Neujahrsempfang für das beim Heiligen Stuhl akkreditierte
Diplomatische Korps, L’Osservatore Romano, Wochenausgabe in deutscher Sprache, 20.
Januar 2006, Nr. 3, S.7.
73
Papst Benedikt XVI., a.a.O.
74
Dazu Fischer-Köck, S. 413 ff.
75
Compendium, S. 288 ff., Nr. 513 ff.
256 HERBERT SCHAMBECK

in der öffentlichen Gewalt, sondern im Menschen selbst und in Gott, sei-


nem Schöpfer“.76

3. Das Erfordernis der Globalisierung des Schutzes der Menschenwürde

Die erneute Einsicht in diese Glaubenswahrheit der Gottesebenbildlich-


keit und der Würde der Menschen wäre ein wegweisender Grund, um über
die vielfach auch jetzt durch den Terrorismus gefährdete Würde des Men-
schen in einer immer mehr global werdenden Welt zu einer Globalisierung
des Schutzes der Menschenwürde zu gelangen. Es wäre aber ebenso tragisch,
wenn die Außerachtlassung des Rechts durch den Terrorismus in seiner
Bekämpfung auch zu einer weiteren Außerachtlassung des Rechts, vor allem
der Grundrechte, bei der Terrorbekämpfung und beim Strafvollzug führen
würde. Vielmehr wäre es erstrebens- und begrüßenswert, könnten die
Schutzmaßnahmen des Staates auch in der Kriminalistik im Rahmen des
Möglichen in einer den Menschenrechten angepassten Weise weiterentwi-
ckelt und weder bei den Tätern noch den Verfolgern des Terrorismus ein bloßes
Recht des Stärkeren vorherrschend werden. Auch aus der Verpflichtung zur
Wahrheit lehnt Papst Benedikt XVI. das Recht des Stärkeren ab: „Wer sich
zur Wahrheit verpflichtet, muss das Recht des Stärkeren ablehnen, das von
der Lüge lebt und das so oft, auf nationaler und internationaler Ebene, die
Geschichte der Menschen mit Tragödien überzogen hat“.77

4. Kein Naturrecht der Stärkeren

Das sogenannte Naturrecht des Stärkeren, wie es als erstes von Gorgias,
Kallikles und Thrasymachos78 im 5. Jahrhundert vor Christus vertreten
wurde, sollte im 21. Jahrhundert nach Christus keine Renaissance erleben,
vielmehr sollte die weltweite Gefährdung der Menschenwürde die Notwen-
digkeit erkennen lassen, in einer immer enger werdenden Zusammenarbeit
der Staaten und der internationalen Organisationen einen Weltrechtsstaat
entstehen zu lassen. Dies verlangt zum Schutz der Menschenwürde auf

76
Compendium, S. 85, Nr. 153; Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Con-
stitution Gaudium et Spes, 27: AAS58 (1966), 1047-1048; Catechism of the Church, 1930.
Cf. John XXIII, Enzyclical Letter Pacem in Terris: AAS55 (1963) 259; Second Vatican Ecu-
menical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 22: AAS58, (1966), 1079.
77
Papst Benedikt XVI., a.a.O.
78
Siehe Verdroß, Abendländische Rechtsphilosophie, S. 19 ff.
DIE MENSCHENWÜRDE IM ÖFFENTLICHEN RECHT UND IN DER POLITISCHEN WISSENSCHAFT 257

inner- und überstaatlicher Ebene einen Polizei – und Rechtsschutz, etwa in


Form einer Einsatzschutztruppe, sowie entsprechende im Voraus denken-
de und strebende Nachrichten – sowie Sicherheitsdienste. Daneben wäre es
aber begrüßenswert, wenn in – und außerhalb der Staaten in der Ausein-
andersetzung „die grundlegenden Werte des Soziallebens“, die das Sozial-
kompendium der Kirche mit „Wahrheit, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit und Liebe“
angibt,79 nicht verloren gehen und eine neue Form der Konflikt- und Streit-
kultur entsteht, die zu einem modernen Bonum commune humanitatis bei-
trägt. Die Verantwortung ist hiefür sehr groß. Es wäre nämlich tragisch,
würde es zu einem Weltkrieg der Kulturen kommen; Samuel P. Huntington
hat der Problematik schon 1996 sein Buch „The Clash of Civilisations“
gewidmet.80 Die Bewältigung dieses Problems, bei dem der Mensch entwe-
der Subjekt oder Objekt für das Recht und die Politik ist, verlangt aber in
einem großen Maß gegenseitiges Verstehen und Toleranz, nicht als Gleich-
gültigkeit sondern als Einsicht.

79
Compendium, S. 113, Nr. 197; Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral
Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 26: AAS58 (1966), 1046-1047; John XXIII, Encyclical Let-
ter Pacem in Terris: AAS55 (1963), 265-266.
80
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of civilisations, New York 1996.
PART III

SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY


PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS:
WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT

MARGARET S. ARCHER

The sociological problem of conceptualising the person is how to cap-


ture someone who is partly formed by their sociality, but also has the capac-
ity to transform their society in some part. The difficulty is that social the-
orising has oscillated between these two extremes. On the one hand,
Enlightenment thought promoted an ‘undersocialised’ view of man,1 one
whose human constitution owed nothing to society and was thus a self-suf-
ficient ‘outsider’ who simply operated in a social environment. On the other
hand, there is a later but pervasive ‘oversocialised’ view of man, whose
every feature, beyond his biology, is shaped and moulded by his social con-
text. He thus becomes such a dependent ‘insider’ that he has no capacity to
transform his social environment.
Instead, if we are to understand and model the human being as both
‘child’ and ‘parent’ of society there are two requirements. Firstly, social the-
ory needs a concept of man whose sociality does make a vital contribution
to the realisation of his potential qua human being. Secondly, however, it
requires a concept of man who does possess sufficient relatively
autonomous properties and powers that he can reflect and act upon his
social context, along with others like him, in order to transform it.
It is argued that both the ‘undersocialised’ and the ‘oversocialised’ mod-
els of humankind are inadequate foundations for social theory because
they present us with either a self-sufficient maker of society, or a supine
social product who is made.

1
‘Man’ and especially ‘rational man’ was the term current in Enlightenment thinking.
Because it is awkward to impose inclusive language retrospectively and distracting to
insert inverted commas, I reluctantly abide with the term ‘man’, as standing for humanity,
when referring to this tradition, its heirs, successors and adversaries.
262 MARGARET S. ARCHER

The preliminary part of this paper seeks to show how these two defec-
tive models of the human being have sequentially dominated social theory
since the Enlightenment, and to indicate their deficiencies for social theo-
rising. The bulk of the paper attempts to substitute a better conception2 of
man from the perspective of social realism. This re-conceptualisation
grants humankind (i) temporal priority, (ii) relative autonomy, and (iii)
causal efficacy, in relation to the social beings that they become and the
powers of transformative reflection and action which they bring to their
social context – powers that are independent of social mediation.

MODERNITY’S MAN AND SOCIETY’S BEING

Two unsatisfactory models of the human being have sequentially dom-


inated social theorising since the Enlightenment. These are mirror images
of each other, since the one stresses complete human self-sufficiency, whilst
the other emphasises utter social dependency.
In cameo, the Enlightenment had allowed the ‘death of God’ to issue in
titanic Man. Thus, the secularisation of modernity was accompanied by an
endorsement of human self-determination: of people’s powers to come to
know the world, master their environment and thus to control their own
destiny as the ‘measure of all things’. Not only does ‘Modernity’s Man’ stand
outside nature as its master, he also stands outside history as the lone indi-
vidual whose relations with other beings and other things are not in any
way constitutive of his self but are merely contingent accretions, detachable
from his essence. Thus the modern self is universally pre-given.
As the heritage of the Enlightenment tradition, ‘Modernity’s Man’ was a
model which had stripped-down the human being until he or she had one
property alone, that of instrumental rationality, namely the capacity to max-
imise his preferences through means-ends relationships and so to optimise
his utility. Yet, this model of homo economicus could not deal with our nor-
mativity or our affectivity, both of which are intentional, that is they are
‘about’ relations with the various orders of reality: the natural, practical,
social and transcendental. These relationships could not be allowed to be,
even partially, constitutive of who we are. Instead, the lone, atomistic and

2
All arguments presented here are developed more fully in Margaret S. Archer, Being
Human: The Problem of Agency, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000.
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 263

opportunistic bargain-hunter stood forth as the impoverished model of man.


On the one hand, some of the many things social with which this model
could not deal were phenomena like voluntary collective behaviour, leading
to the creation of public goods, or normative behaviour, when homo eco-
nomicus recognised his dependence upon others for his own welfare, and,
finally, his expressive solidarity and willingness to share. On the other hand,
one of the most important things with which this model cannot cope is the
human capacity to transcend instrumental rationality and to have ‘ultimate
concerns’. These are concerns that are not a means to anything beyond
them, but are commitments which are constitutive of who we are and thus
the basis of our personal identities. It is only in the light of our ‘ultimate
concerns’ that our actions are ultimately intelligible. None of this caring
can be impoverished by reducing it to an instrumental means-ends rela-
tionship, which is presumed to leave us ‘better off’ relative to some indeter-
minate notion of future ‘utility’.3
Nevertheless, this was the model of man which was eagerly seized upon
by social contract theorists in politics, Utilitarians in ethics and social pol-
icy, and liberals in political economy. Homo Economicus is a survivor. He is
also a colonial adventurer and, in the hands of Rational Choice theorists,
he bids to conquer social science in general. As Gary Becker outlines this
mission, ‘The economic approach is a comprehensive one that is applicable
to all human behaviour’.4
However, the rise of postmodernism during the last two decades repre-
sented a virulent rejection of ‘Modernity’s Man’, which then spilt over into
the dissolution of the human subject and a corresponding inflation of the
importance of society. This displacement of the human subject and this cel-
ebration of the power of social forces to shape and to mould, reaches back
to the Durkheimian view of the human being as ‘indeterminate material’, at
least in the The Rules of Sociological Method. Nowadays, in Lyotard’s words,
‘a self does not amount to much’,5 and in Rorty’s follow-up, ‘Socialisation ...

3
For a critique of Rational Choice Theory’s ‘model of man’, see Margaret S. Archer,
‘Homo Economicus, Homo Sociologicus and Homo Sentiens’, in M.S. Archer and J.Q.
Tritter (eds.), Rational Choice Theory: Resisting Colonization’, Routledge, London, 2000.
4
G. Becker, The Economic Approach to Human Behaviour, Chicago University Press,
1976, p. 8. It seems regrettable that Becker termed this ‘the economic approach’ because
of the erroneous implication that all economists endorse it.
5
J-F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press,
1984, p. 15.
264 MARGARET S. ARCHER

goes all the way down’.6 To give humankind this epiphenomenal status nec-
essarily deflects all real interest onto the forces of socialisation. People are
indeed perfectly uninteresting if they posses no personal powers which can
make a difference.
The de-centring of the Enlightenment concept of the human being thus
leads directly to an actual dissolution of the self, which becomes kaleido-
scopically shaped by the flux of historico-cultural contingencies.
References to the human person become indefinite, since contingency
deprives him or her of any properties or powers which are intrinsic to
humankind and inalienable from it. Consequently, to Foucault, ‘Man would
be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.’7
Postmodernism has massively reinforced the anti-realist strand of ide-
alism in social theory and thus given ballast to Social Constructionism.
This is the generic view that there are no emergent properties and powers
pertaining to human persons, namely ones which exist in between human
beings as organic parcels of molecules and humankind as generated from
a network of social meanings.8 The model of ‘Society’s Being’ is Social
Constructionism’s contribution to the debate, which presents all our
human properties and powers, apart from our biological constitution, as
the gift of society. From this viewpoint, there is only one flat, unstratified,
powerful particular, the human person – who is a site or literally a point of
view. Beyond that, our selfhood is a grammatical fiction, a product of learn-
ing to master the first-person pronoun system, and thus quite simply a the-
ory of the self which is appropriated from society. Constructionism thus
elides the concept of self with the sense of self. We are nothing beyond what
society makes us, and it makes us what we are through our joining society’s
conversation. Society’s Being thus impoverishes humanity, by subtracting
from our human powers and accrediting all of them – selfhood, reflexivity,
thought, memory, emotionality and belief – to society’s discourse.
What makes human subjects act now becomes an urgent question
because the answer cannot ever be given in terms of people themselves;
they have neither the human resources to pursue their own aims nor the

6
Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Cambridge University Press,1989,
p. 185.
7
M.Foucault, The Order of Things, New York, Random House, 1970, p. 387.
8
The best example of this model is provided by the work of Rom Harré. The leitmo-
tif of his social constructionism is the following statement: ‘A person is not a natural
object, but a cultural artefact’. Personal Being, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1983, p. 20.
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 265

capacity to find reasons good if they are not in social currency. This means
that to the Constructionists people can only be moved by reasons appropri-
ated from society and are thus effectively condemned to being convention-
alists. Constructionists are unable to explain why some people seek to
replace society’s rules and are unwilling to allow that this originates in peo-
ple themselves – from their personal concerns that are forged in the space
between the self and reality as a whole.

THE NEED FOR REALISM’S SELF

From the realist point of view, the central deficiency of these two mod-
els is their basic denial that the nature of reality as a whole makes any dif-
ference to the people that we become or even to our becoming people.
Modernity’s Man is preformed and his formation, that is the emergence of
his properties and powers, is not dependent upon his experiences of reali-
ty. Indeed, reality can only come to him filtered through an instrumental
rationality that is shackled to his interests – one whose own genesis is left
mysterious. Preference formation has remained obscure, from the origins
of the Humean ‘passions’ to the goals optimised by the contemporary
rational chooser. The model is anthropocentric because man works on real-
ity as a whole but reality does not work upon man, except by attaching risks
and costs to the accomplishment of his pre-formed designs. In short, he is
closed against any experience of reality which could make him fundamen-
tally different from what he already is.
Similarly, Society’s Being is also a model which forecloses direct inter-
play with most of reality. Here the whole of reality comes to people sieved
through one part of it, ‘society’s conversation’. The very notion of being
selves is merely a theory appropriated from society and what people make
of the world is a matter of permutations upon their appropriations. Again
this model cuts man off from any experience of reality itself, one which
could make him fundamentally different from what social discourse makes
of him. Society is the gatekeeper of reality and therefore all that we become
is society’s gift because it is mediated through it.
What is lost, in both versions, is the crucial notion of experience of real-
ity; that the way matters are can affect how we are. This is because both
anthropocentricism and sociocentrism are two versions of the ‘epistemic fal-
lacy’, where what reality is taken to be – courtesy of our instrumental ration-
ality or social discourse – is substituted for reality itself. Realism cannot
266 MARGARET S. ARCHER

endorse the ‘epistemic fallacy’ and, in this connection, it must necessarily


insist that what exists (ontologically) has a regulatory effect upon what we
make of it and, in turn, what it makes of us. These effects are independent
of our full discursive penetration, just as gravity influenced us and the proj-
ects we could entertain long before we conceptualised it (epistemologically).
Relations between humanity and reality are intrinsic to the develop-
ment of human properties which are necessary conditions of social life
itself. Thus, I am advancing a transcendental argument for the necessity of
a ‘sense of self’ to the existence of society. The continuity of consciousness,
meaning a continuous ‘sense of self’, was first put forward by Locke.9 To
defend it entails maintaining the crucial distinction between the evolving
concept of self (which is indeed social) and the universal sense of self (which
is not). This distinction has been upheld by certain anthropologists, like
Marcel Mauss10 to whom the universal sense of ‘the “self” (Moi) is every-
where present’. This constant element consists in the fact that ‘there has
never existed a human being who has not been aware, not only of his body
but also of his individuality, both spiritual and physical’.11 However, there
has been a persistent tendency in the social sciences to absorb the sense of
self into the concept of self and thus to credit what is universal to the cul-
tural balance sheet.
The best way of showing that the distinction should be maintained is a
demonstration of its necessity – i.e. that a sense of self must be distinct from
social variations in concepts of selves because society could not work with-
out people who have a continuity of consciousness. The demonstration
consists in showing that for anyone to appropriate social expectations it is
necessary for them to have a sense of self upon which these impinge, such

9
Locke put forward a definition which has considerable intuitive appeal, such that a
person was ‘a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider
itself as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places’ (Essay II, xxvii, 2).
From Bishop Butler onwards, critics have construed such continuity of consciousness
exclusively in terms of memory and then shown that memory alone fails to secure strict
personal identity. See, for example, Bernard Williams, Problems of the Self, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 1973. A defence of a modified neo-Lockean definition is pro-
vided by David Wiggins, ‘Locke, Butler and the Stream of Consciousness: and Man as a
Natural Kind’, Philosophy, 51, 1976, which preserves the original insight.
10
Marcel Mauss, ‘A category of the human mind: the notion of person; the notion of
self’, in M.Carrithers, S.Collins and S.Lukes (eds), The Category of the Person, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 1989.
11
Ibid., p. 3.
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 267

that they recognise what is expected of them (otherwise obligations cannot


be personally appropriated).
Hence, for example, the individual Zuni has to sense that his two
given names, one for Summer and one for Winter, apply to the same self,
which is also the rightful successor of the ancestor who is held to live
again in the body of each who bears his names. Correct appropriation (by
the proper man for all seasons) is dependent upon a continuity of con-
sciousness which is an integral part of what we mean by selfhood. No
generalised social belief in ancestral reincarnation will suffice; for unless
there is a self which (pro)claims I am that ancestor, then the belief which
is held to be general turns out to be one which has no actual takers! Nor
is this situation improved by vague talk about ‘social pressures’ to enact
roles or assume genealogical responsibilities. On the contrary, this is inco-
herent for it boils down to meaning that everyone knows what roles
should be filled but that no-one has enough of a sense of self to feel that
these expectations apply to them. The implication for society is that noth-
ing gets done. For without selves which sense responsibilities to be their
own and which also own expectations, the latter have all the force of the
complaint that ‘someone ought to do something about it’. Thus no version
of socialisation theory can work with ‘indeterminate material’. Human
beings have to be determinate in this one way at least, that of acknowl-
edging themselves to be the same beings over time. In other words, Zuni
society relies upon a ‘sense of self’, even though, concepts of the self, with-
in Zuni culture, are unlike ours.
To reinforce this transcendental argument, it should be noted that
the two impoverished sociological models of the person, examined earli-
er, are also dependent upon a continuity of self-consciousness – of which
they give no account. ‘Society’s Being’ needs this sense of self in order for
a subject to know that social obligations pertain to her, rather than being
diffuse expectations, and that when they clash it is she who is put on the
spot and has to exercise a creativity which cannot be furnished by con-
sulting the discursive canon. Unscripted performances, which hold soci-
ety together, need an active subject who is enough of a self to acknowl-
edge her obligation to write her own script to cover the occasion.
Similarly, this continuous sense that we are one and the same being over
time is equally indispensable to ‘Modernity’s Man’. He needs this sense of
self if he is consistently to pursue his preference schedule, for he has to
know both that they are his preferences and also how he is doing in max-
imising them over time.
268 MARGARET S. ARCHER

THE EMERGENCE OF PERSONAL IDENTITY

So far I have dealt with only one property of human subjects, namely
their crucial ability to know themselves to be the same being over time
because they have a continuous sense of self. However, they also become
the bearers of further emergent properties and powers which are what
make them recognisable as persons who respond differently to the world
and act within it to change it. The next step is therefore to account for the
emergence of the personal identity of agents, derived from their interactions
with reality: its natural, practical, social and transcendental orders.
However, such a personal identity depends upon the prior emergence of a
sense of self because the latter has to secure the fact that the different orders
of reality are all impinging on the same subject – who also knows it.
Fundamentally, personal identity is a matter of what we care about. This
proposition is examined in exclusively secular terms in the present section.
Constituted as we are, and the world being the way it is, humans
ineluctably interact with the three different orders of natural reality: (i)
nature, (ii) practice and (iii) the social. Humans necessarily have to sustain
relationships with the natural world, work relationships and social rela-
tionships if they are to survive and thrive. Therefore, none of us can afford
to be indifferent to the concerns that are embedded in our relations with all
three natural orders.
Our emotional development is part of this interaction because emotions
convey the import of different kinds of situations to us. In other words, the
natural order, the practical order and the discursive order are the inten-
tional objects to which three different clusters of emotions are related.
Because emotions are seen as ‘commentaries upon our concerns’,12 then
emotionality is our reflexive response to the world. A distinct type of con-
cern derives from each of these three orders. The concerns at stake are
respectively those of ‘physical well-being’ in relation to the natural order,
‘performative competence’ in relation to the practical order and ‘self-worth’
in relation to the social order.
(i) In nature human beings have the power to anticipate what the
import of environmental occurrences will be for their bodily well-being.
Anticipation is the key to affect. We know what the bodily consequences of

12
Margaret S. Archer, ‘Emotions as Commentaries on Human Concerns’, in Jonathan
H. Turner (ed.), Theory and Research on Human Emotions, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2004, p.
327-356.
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 269

fire or icy water will be and somatically this is projected as fear; were it not
for anticipation, there would be nothing other than the pain of the event
itself. It is from the interaction between environmental circumstances and
embodied concerns that, because we are conscious beings, we can antici-
pate their conjunction and furnish ourselves with an emotional commen-
tary. The relationship between properties of the environment and proper-
ties of our embodiment are sufficient for the emergence of emotions like
fear, anger, disgust and relief.
(ii) In the practical order there is a distinct cluster of emotions which
are emergent from our subject/object relations, which concern our perfor-
mative achievement. These are the two strings made up of frustration, bore-
dom and depression, on the one hand, and satisfaction, joy, exhilaration
and euphoria, on the other. The task/undertaker relationship is quintessen-
tially that of subject confronting object and what exactly goes on between
them is known to the subject alone. Each task makes its own demands
upon the undertaker, if a skilled performance is to be produced. It thus car-
ries its own standards which give the undertaker either positive or negative
feedback. In other words, the sense of failure and the sense of achievement
are reflected emotionally. Positive emotions foster continued practice and
negative affect predisposes towards its cessation.
(iii) In the social order we cannot avoid becoming a subject among sub-
jects. With it come ‘subject-referring properties’ (such as admirable or
shameful), which convey the import of social normativity to our own con-
cerns in society. Generically, the most important of our social concerns is
our self-worth which is vested in certain projects (career, family, communi-
ty, club or church) whose success or failure we take as vindicating our
worth or damaging it. It is because we have invested ourselves in these
social projects that we are susceptible of emotionality in relation to society’s
normative evaluation of our performance in these roles. Our behaviour is
regulated by hopes and fears, that is anticipations of social approbation/dis-
approbation. Simply to be a role incumbent has no such emotional impli-
cations – pupils who vest none of their self-worth in their school perform-
ance are not downcast by examination failure. Therefore, it is our own def-
initions of what constitutes our self-worth that determine which of society’s
normative evaluations matter enough for us to be emotional about them;
few people are genuinely distressed about collecting a parking ticket.
However, a dilemma now confronts all people. It arises because every
person receives all three kinds of emotional commentaries on their con-
cerns, originating from each of the orders of natural reality – nature, prac-
270 MARGARET S. ARCHER

tice and the social. Because they have to live and attempt to thrive in the
three orders simultaneously, they must necessarily (in some way and to
some degree) attend to all three clusters of commentaries. This is their
problem. Nothing guarantees that the three sets of first-order emotions
dovetail harmoniously. It follows that the concerns to which they relate
cannot all be promoted without conflict arising between them. For exam-
ple, an evasive response to the promptings of physical fear can threaten
social self-worth by producing cowardly acts; cessation of an activity in
response to boredom in the practical domain can threaten physical well-
being; and withdrawal as a response to social shaming may entail a loss of
livelihood. In other words, momentary attention to pressing commentaries
may literally produce the instant gratification of concerns in one order, but
it is a recipe for disaster. This is because we have no alternative but to
inhabit the three natural orders simultaneously and none of their concerns
can be bracketed-away for long. It is only on rather rare occasions that a
particular commentary has semi-automatic priority, as in escaping a fire,
undertaking a test or getting married.
Most of the time, each person has to work out their own modus viven-
di in relation to the three natural orders. What this entails is striking a live-
able balance within our trinity of inescapable naturalistic concerns. This
modus vivendi can prioritise one of the three orders of reality, as with some-
one who is said to ‘live for their art’, but what it cannot do is entirely to neg-
lect the other orders. Yet which precise balance we strike between our con-
cerns and what precisely figures amongst an individual’s concerns is what
gives us our strict identity as particular persons. Our emergent personal
identities are a matter of how we prioritise one concern as our ‘ultimate
concern’ and how we subordinate but yet accommodate others to it,
because, constituted as we are, we cannot be unconcerned about how we
fare in all three orders of natural reality. Since these concerns can never be
exclusively social and since the modus vivendi is worked out by an active
and reflexive agent, personal identity cannot be the gift of society.
That we all have concerns in the natural, practical and social orders is
unavoidable, but which concerns and in what configuration is a matter of
human reflexivity. The process of arriving at a configuration, which priori-
tises our ‘ultimate concerns’ and accommodates others to them is both cog-
nitive and affective. It entails both judgements of worth and an assessment
of whether or not we care enough to be able to live with the costs and trade-
offs involved. We are fallible on each count, but our struggle to establish a
modus vivendi reflecting our commitments is an active process of delibera-
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 271

tion that takes place through our reflexive ‘internal conversations’. In these
we ‘test’ our potential or ongoing commitments against our emotional com-
mentaries, which tell us whether we are up to living this or that committed
life. Because the commentaries will not be unanimous, the inner conversa-
tion involves evaluating them, promoting some and subordinating others,
such that the combination of concerns we affirm are also those with which
we feel we can live. Since the process is corrigible (we may get it wrong or
circumstances may change), the conversation is ongoing. I believe that our
‘internal conversations’ are the most neglected phenomenon in social theo-
ry, which has never adequately examined the process of reflexivity that
makes us the singular subjects we are. I have begun to unpack this process
as an interior dialogue through which a personal identity is forged by com-
ing to identify one’s self as the being-with-this-constellation-of-concerns.13
By this act of identity-formation, a new source of imports comes into
being. We now interpret and articulate imports in the light of our commit-
ments which define us, and this brings with it a transformation of emotion-
al commentary. In short, our new commitments represent a novel sounding-
board for the emotions. For example, if marriage is one of our prime con-
cerns, then an attractive opportunity for infidelity is also felt as a threat of
betrayal; its import is that of a liaison dangereuse, because we are no longer
capable of the simplicity of a purely first-order response. Our reactions to
relevant events are emotionally transmuted by our ultimate concerns. This
is reinforced because our current commitments also transvalue our pasts;
the vegetarian is disgusted at once having enjoyed a rare steak and the
‘green’ inwardly shudders at once having worn a fur coat. The effect of these
retrospective feelings is to provide positive reinforcement for present com-
mitments. The same process also works prospectively, for the simple reason
that our lives become organised around them. We consort and concelebrate
with those sharing our commitments and ‘discomfort’ is the transvalued
feeling that keeps us apart from those with counter-commitments.
The modus vivendi, which depends upon a durable and effective trans-
valuation of our emotional responses, is an achievement – not one which
can be accomplished immediately and not one which can necessarily be
sustained. For children and young people, who undoubtedly have inner dia-
logues, the establishment of a stable configuration of commitments is a vir-

13
See Margaret S. Archer, Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 2003.
272 MARGARET S. ARCHER

tual impossibility because they are still learning about themselves, the
world and the relations between them. Nor is its achievement a certainty at
maturity. Some remain at the mercy of their first-order emotional pushes
and pulls, drifting from job to job, place to place and relationship to rela-
tionship. Drift means an absence of personal identity and the accumulation
of circumstances which make it harder to form one. The downward spiral
of homelessness or addiction is downwards precisely because it condemns
people to preoccupation with the satisfaction of first-order commentaries –
the next night or the next fix. Furthermore, there are destabilised commit-
ments resulting from external changes of circumstances, some of which are
predictable (for example, in the life-cycle), whilst others derive from the
contingencies of life in an open system (for instance, involuntary redun-
dancy). These are nodal points which prompt a radical re-opening of the
‘internal conversation’. But for all people the dialogue is a continuous
reflexive monitoring of our concerns, since our commitments are promis-
sory and provisional – subject to renewal or revision.

PERSONAL IDENTITY AND RELIGIOUS CONCERNS

What has been sketched so far is a purely secular argument about our
ineluctable embedding in the natural, practical and social orders of reality.
It has been maintained that our personal identities derive from our ulti-
mate concerns, from what we care about most, together with our other con-
cerns, which cannot be discarded but are accommodated to our prime
commitment. As Frankfurt put the matter, our ultimate concerns are defin-
itive of us in that what our commitments ‘keep us from violating are not our
duties or our obligations but ourselves’14 – that is what I am calling our per-
sonal identities. What difference is made if our relations with transcenden-
tal reality are introduced?
Those who hold that they have justifiable beliefs in the existence of God
also consider that they have good reasons for holding relations between
humanity and divinity to be as ineluctable as those pertaining between
humankind and the other orders of reality. But what of those who disavow
the transcendent and therefore any transcendental concern? I will argue that

14
Harry G. Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About, Cambridge University
Press, 1988, p. 91.
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 273

this denial has the same damaging consequences for human well-being as
ignoring those of our concerns that are vested in natural, practical and social
reality. How can this possibly be asserted, since non-believers appear to
make out just as well in the world – including making their way through it
with as much goodness and generosity as do believers? My argument is
based on the belief that God is love – the quintessence of unconditional love.
That is what He offers us by His nature. To defend my case, I thus have to
adduce some indispensable human concern that hinges upon our relations
with transcendental reality, namely one which it is universally damaging for
us to ignore and one which is intimately related to our flourishing.
There seems to be every reason to advance love itself as this concern. As
an emotional commentary, love also signals the most profound human con-
cern in that our fulfilment depends upon our need to love and to be loved. It
has been debated since Antiquity what makes this particular emotion differ-
ent from others. The answer seems to lie neither in its intentionality nor in
its cognitive or evaluative characteristics, but quite simply in its indispens-
ability. As Robert Brown puts it, ‘What makes love unusual among the emo-
tions is the human inability to do without it – whether its bestowal or receipt
– and the immense amount of satisfaction that love commonly brings to the
people concerned ... Only love is both completely indispensable to the func-
tioning of human society and a source of the fullest satisfaction known to
human beings’.15 It follows that the unbeliever does not do without love
because she cannot if it is indispensable. She may find it in love of nature, of
art or of another person – where only in the last case can it be received as well
as given. It remains to try to show that someone who settles for anything less
than divine love then damages their potential for fulfilment.16
To care about anything sufficiently to make it a matter of ultimate con-
cern, entails two elements. Firstly, there is a cognitive judgement about its
inherent worth, which is always fallible. Secondly, there is a deep emotion-
al attachment to it and must be since it would be strange to say that a per-
son was devoted to X if they felt quite indifferent towards it.17 The affective
element is not fallible; we cannot be mistaken that we love but, neverthe-
less, we can love unwisely by pinning our affections on someone or some-
thing of dubious worth – even in our own eyes.

15
Robert Brown, Analyzing Love, Cambridge University Press, 1987, p 126-7.
16
This is basically St Augustine’s argument: ‘Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nos-
trum donec requiescat in te’.
17
See Justin Oakley, Morality and the Emotions, Routledge, London, 1992, p. 65.
274 MARGARET S. ARCHER

If the religious believer’s belief is justifiable, then he or she cannot be


wrong in their cognitive judgement that God is, by his nature, inherently
worthy of the highest loving concern. This is how they have experienced
Him to be and it is these experiences which constitute the justification for
their religious belief.18 Indeed, unbelievers would probably concur that
were there a God whose nature is that of pure unconditional love, whose
intentions towards humankind were that we should participate in it to the
fullest, their judgement about his supreme goodness would not be in doubt.
What they doubt is not his putative worth but his existence. However, were
they to become convinced through experience that he does exist, they them-
selves would admit that they had previously invested their loving in some-
thing inherently less worthy and which failed fully to satisfy.
We need to go one step further than this to show that human fulfilment
depends upon perfect love and that only lesser degrees of satisfaction derive
from imperfect loves. This is possible because in the long running
Aristotelian debate about whether we love someone or the qualities that
they personify, it seems that on either side we settle for the imperfectly wor-
thy. If we love a (human) person ‘for themselves’, as is often said, then the
qualities that they do instantiate may well leave out some of those which
we value highly – it is improbable that this would not be the case.
Conversely, if we love someone because they (very nearly) embody all the
qualities that we value most highly, we will also have to put up with unre-
lated characteristics to which we are not wholly indifferent: as with the
intelligent, virtuous and handsome man who also dominates every conver-
sation. Only a being whose person and nature are identical, one that con-
sists of love itself, is inherently and unreservedly worthy of our highest lov-
ing concern. Only God fulfils these desiderata. To be love is to love uncon-
ditionally, because there is nothing else upon which such a nature can set
store without contradicting that very nature. To be love is also to love
unchangeably, since to love less or more would be a contradiction in terms.
Of course, consequentiality, conditionality and changeability are the very
rocks upon which human loving most frequently breaks up. Human love
does indeed tend to alter when it alteration finds.

18
Note that this is an argument from religious experience. Those who come to believe
in other ways, such as through tradition alone or from natural theology, will not have per-
sonal knowledge of God’s nature, in the first case, and may not even ascribe a nature to
him, in the second case, where he may simply be accepted as a (mechanistic) ‘first cause’.
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 275

However, to return to the believer, what difference does the love of


God make to their personal identities? In their acknowledgement of tran-
scendence they find an ultimate concern that is cognitively of supreme
worth, if they are justified in their beliefs. If so, then one new item of
information that they will have gained from their religious experience, as
opposed to the teaching tradition in which the experience of transcen-
dence is contextualised, is that they are personally loved. It was argued
earlier that deeming anything to be one’s ultimate concern entailed both
cognition and affect. Hence, what is now being asked is how much we care
about that to which we have cognitively assented, for it is how we respond
by loving back (with all our heart, soul, strength and mind...) which deter-
mines its effect upon our identities.
We humans respond by loving God back with a feeble lack of propor-
tionality. The reason why is partly because our transcendental experiences
are discontinuous and partly because other (naturalistic) concerns do not
go away and we let them get in the way: ‘Martha, you worry and fret about
so many things and yet few are needed’ (Luke. 10.41). Mostly, we do not
have that kind of trust; our other concerns are indeed inescapable and gen-
erally we act as if only our care for them can ensure our well-being in the
other orders of reality. Believers are as familiar with compromise and trade-
off as is anyone else about their purely secular concerns. The rich young
man from Mark’s gospel has often suffered a rough re-telling. It was not
that he chose a love of Mammon over that of God, because Jesus loved him
for the service he already gave, but rather that he would not do that one
thing more which would have shown that God was his ultimate concern.
Most of us are guilty of wrong ranking rather than rank wrongdoing.

THEOSIS AND BEING-IN-THE-WORLD

Nevertheless, those who have experienced anything of the uncondition-


al love of God cannot fail to care about it at all if, as has been maintained,
such love is indispensable to human fulfilment. The response may be
unworthy, but that does not mean it is non-existent. Theosis, or progressive
divinisation, is a process that remains incomplete for the vast majority of
believers during their lifetimes. However, given fidelity, it is in process and
is increasingly formative of ourselves as persons. The main inward effect of
endorsing any ultimate concern is that it transvalues our feelings. Such a
commitment acts as a new sounding board against which old concerns
276 MARGARET S. ARCHER

reverberate; the emotional echo is transformed. Consider something as


simple as once having enjoyed eating sausages. In the natural order, the
newly committed vegetarian may now feel positive revulsion; in the practi-
cal order, Olympic competitors may see these as salivating temptation; in
the social order, the new executive may consider them beneath his status.
In other words, any serious commitment acts as a prism on the world that
refracts our first-order emotions by transmuting them into second-order
feelings – for affectivity is always a commentary upon our concerns.
Finally, what I want to argue is that a religious commitment is consti-
tutive of new transvalued emotions, distinctive of this concern, that differ-
entiate its adherents from those dedicated to any form of secular concern.
This affectual transformation is the substantive justification of how tran-
scendental relations are at least as important in forming us, in our concrete
singularity, as are our naturalistic experiences and secular commitments.
The first feeling which is discrete to those who have experienced God as
unconditional love is sinfulness: of having fundamentally missed the mark,
of representing a different order of ‘fallen’ being, or of our unworthiness to
raise our eyes. Sinfulness is qualitatively different from the emotions
attending dedication to secular ultimate concerns. However high or deep
these latter may be, when we fall short of them the corresponding feelings
are self-reproach, remorse, regret or self-contempt. Even the lucky lover
who declares himself unworthy of his beloved protests something different,
namely that he has hit the mark undeservedly. Conversely, disconsolate
swains merely feel disconsolate rather than sinful. In their turn, these sec-
ular feelings are different again from the unemotional state of those with-
out any commitment and whose only question is can they get away with
whatever they seek to do – which is precisely where cost-benefit analysis
rules. Sinfulness is regarded as an emotional commentary which is emer-
gent from relations between humanity and divinity – one expressing the
quintessential disparity felt between them.
It grows out of those human emotions such as remorsefulness and
unworthiness, but only through their transmutation. This entails a peniten-
tial revaluation of our lives, which develops only as the transcendental com-
mitment and thus the contrast, deepens. Graham Greene’s whisky priest in
The Power and the Glory progressively embraces his loss of social self-worth
and endorses service of God as his ultimate concern, which leads to his mar-
tyrdom. At the start of this transvaluation, he treasures an old photograph
showing himself as a well-fed and well-respected priest with his immaculate
flock at a time when his vocation had seemed to involve little sacrificial sub-
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 277

ordination of his physical and social well-being. As his ultimate concern


becomes ultimately demanding, his emotions towards the photo are trans-
formed and its eventual loss is simply irrelevant. The more his divinisation
proceeds, the deeper is his sense of his sinful nothingness. In Newman’s
words, ‘the truest penitence no more comes at first, than perfect conformity
to any other part of God’s law. It is gained by long practice – it will come at
length. The dying Christian will fulfil the part of the returning prodigal more
exactly than he ever did in his former years’.19 The sense of being a sinner
intensifies, whereas the protests of unworthy but lucky lovers fade away as
they make good their vows to ‘prove themselves’. Growing proofs of divine
love may indeed rectify a life but they simultaneously deepen the feeling of
disparity; that whatever we do, we have all fallen short of the glory of God.
There seems to be no human equivalent to the affect associated with sinful-
ness; that the closer we become to our ultimate concern, the further apart
and more different in kind we feel ourselves to be.
Secondly, let us consider the growth of detachment. There are always
costs to commitment because to promote one concern is to demote others,
yet the concerns in question are inescapable. Generically, our three secular
concerns were not acquired at will, they emerged from the necessary inter-
play between the way we are constituted and the way the world is.
Consequently, it takes a considerable act of will to prioritise an ultimate con-
cern because this means the subordination (not the repudiation) of other
concerns – by producing an alignment between them with which the subject
believes he or she can live. Struggle is therefore generic to human commit-
ment to any ultimate concern, because subordinate concerns do have natu-
ralistic legitimacy. They are about different aspects of our well-being and the
emotional commentaries emanating from them signal the costs entailed to
the person by the priorities that they have reflexively determined.
Although such struggle is endemic to the crystallisation and confirma-
tion of what we care about most and thus to our personal identities them-
selves, the battlefield is very different for the believer and the unbeliever.
Secular struggles are basically about sustaining dedication to an ultimate
concern within the triad naturalistic concerns. They involve preventing
these three from slipping out of the alignment that has been determined
between them. Poignant regrets and powerful temptations often recur after

19
Cited in Owen Chadwick, The Mind of the Oxford Movement, Adam and Charles
Black, London. 1960, p. 153.
278 MARGARET S. ARCHER

an ultimate commitment has been made; costs are recurrent and the bill is
frequently re-presented. In a purely mundane sense, religious commitment
is even more expensive. This is because the struggle of those who have put
their transcendental commitment first is that they thereby seek to subordi-
nate all three of their naturalistic concerns to it: their physical well-being,
performative achievement and social self-worth. Those who try to respond
more and more freely to God’s unconditional love feel drawn to live in con-
formity with this supreme good, which explicitly means not being con-
formed to the world.
Their struggle has always been well understood in the Christian tradi-
tion and has been represented as the battle between the two Kingdoms of
heaven and earth or, by extension of the military metaphor, as the battle-
lines between the ‘two standards’ in St Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises. In our
own terms, it is the antinomy between transfiguring theosis and both the
anthropocentricism of ‘Modernity’s Man’ and the sociocentricism of ‘Society’s
Being’. This struggle is constitutive of a new transvalued emotion, detach-
ment. Such detachment, by definition, is without secular counterpart – pre-
cisely because it constitutes a new view of natural reality and a different
way of being-in-the-world with its three concerns. Since it is a transvalua-
tion, its secular precursors are emotions such as resignation towards what
has been subordinated: for example, the careerist, resigned to the loss of his
sporting life, or the mother who reconciles herself to putting her career on
hold. However, these secular responses of resignation to the consequences
of having made an ultimate commitment are negative emotions, tinged
with nostalgia, at best, and bitter regret, at worst. It is the absence of such
negativity that distinguishes the growth of religious detachment.
Detachment does not mean that the battle is over, for it never is.
Compromise, concession and betrayal are life-long possibilities and
assailants. Yet, in the lulls, detachment is a new and positive commentary
upon being in the world but not of it. Detachment is a real inner rejoicing
in the freedom of unwanting; it is a carefree trusting that all manner of
things will be well; it is the ultimate celebration of being over having or not-
having. It is the feeling that we are sub specie aeternitatis and have been
unbound from the wheel; freed from those constraining determinations of
body, labour and self-worth. It is to have glimpsed human autonomy in the
form of sharing in divine autarky. Under the prompting of this emotional
commentary, our orientation towards the world is transformed; since our
identity is not primarily vested in it, we are enabled to serve it. In disinter-
ested involvement, true detached concern is possible: for the planet, for the
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 279

good use of material culture, and for the intrinsic value of every human
being and encounter. Thus, comportment towards the three natural orders
of reality is itself transfigured. If seeking to be conformed to unconditional
love is the ultimate concern, then it will be more formative of our way of
being-in-the-world than any naturalistic commitment can be. This is where
the argument comes full circle. Deriving from the response of humans to
divine reality, there are certain ways of being-in-the-world that remain
incomprehensible without the admission of transcendence

THE EMERGENCE OF SOCIAL IDENTITY

This exploration of what makes us persons has emphasised our volun-


tarism, because every version of the ‘oversocialised’ view (Society’s Being) or
the pre-programmed view (Modernity’s Man) traduces our personal powers
to live meaningful lives; they dismiss the power of personal identity to shape
our lives around what we care about most and to which we commit our-
selves. Nevertheless, we do not make our personal identities under the cir-
cumstances of our choosing, since our embeddedness in society is indeed
part of what being human means. Thus, when we come to examine the
emergence of our social identities we have to deal with our involuntary
placement as social agents and how this affects the social actors which some
of us can voluntarily become.
Social identity is the capacity to express what we care about in social
roles that are appropriate for doing this. Social identity comes from adopt-
ing a role and personifying it in a singular manner, rather than simply ani-
mating it.20 But here we meet a dilemma. It seems as though we have to call
upon personal identity to account for who does the active personification.
Yet, it also appears that we cannot make such an appeal because on this
account it looks as though personal identity cannot be attained before social
identity is achieved. Otherwise, how can people evaluate their social con-
cerns against other kinds of concerns when ordering their ultimate con-
cerns? Conversely, it also seems as if the achievement of social identity is
dependent upon someone having sufficient personal identity to personify
any role in their unique manner. This is the dilemma.

20
Martin Hollis, Models of Man: Philosophical Thoughts on Social Action, Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 1977.
280 MARGARET S. ARCHER

The only way out of it is to accept the existence of a dialectical rela-


tionship between personal and social identities. Yet if this is to be more than
fudging, it is necessary to venture three ‘moments’ of the interplay (P.I. < —
—> S.I.) which culminate in a synthesis such that both personal and social
identities are emergent and distinct, although they contributed to one anoth-
er’s emergence and distinctiveness.
The first moment is held to be one in which nascent personal identity
holds sway over nascent social identity (P.I -> S.I.). Confronted with a choice,
let us say the decision to be made about someone’s first occupation, what
resources do they have to draw upon? The answer has to be their experi-
ence of the four orders of reality – nature, practice, the social and the tran-
scendental – even though as minors they can only make ‘dry-runs’ at their
internal conversations about them. Some of these experiences are limited
by the natal context into which people are born and their associated life-
chances. Nevertheless, everyone has some access to all. Firstly, their expe-
rience in the natural realm is not negligible. Through play, sport, travel and
outdoor activities it is at least extensive enough to perform a regulatory
function over what is sought or shunned when considering the array of
occupational roles. My older son, a frustrated explorer, calls it ‘life in a
fleece’; the younger one, who hated riding, will never be found applying for
stable management.
Secondly and similarly, constant interaction in the practical order has
supplied positive and negative feedback about the kinds of activities from
which satisfaction is derived through exposure to a host of common activ-
ities: painting, drawing, music, construction, sewing, mechanics, garden-
ing, computing, childcare, cooking and household maintenance. Thirdly,
in their involuntary social roles children are reflexive beings and it is they
who determine which of the arenas they have experienced might become
the locus of their own self-worth. The child, and especially the teenager,
basically asks, ‘do I want to be like that?’, or, more searchingly, they inter-
rogate themselves about which aspects of a role are worth having and
which they would want to be different for themselves. In other words,
they inspect not only their own involuntary roles but also the lifestyles of
those who have put them there. These are sifted into elements worthy of
replication versus others meriting rejection. ‘I like studying x, but I don’t
want to teach’ is a frequent verdict of many undergraduates. Finally, expe-
rience of transcendental reality may arise through church attendance,
compulsory acts of daily worship or wordless experiences of divine pres-
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 281

ence.21 The key point is that there would be no process at all unless the
nascent personal identity brought something to the task of role selection.
Otherwise we would be dealing with an entirely passive procedure of role
assignment through socialisation.
Of course their preliminary choices are fallible because the crucial
missing piece of information is the experience of having made the choice
itself. Yet, without taking the plunge there is no other way in which it can
be acquired; but in its acquisition, the individual herself undergoes change.
This is why it is legitimate to disengage a second ‘moment’, where the nas-
cent social identity impacts upon the nascent personal identity (S.I. - -> P.I.).
All ‘first choices’ are experiments, guided by the nascent personal identity.
But through experimentation the ‘terms and conditions’ of investing oneself
in the role, and choosing to identify with it, also become manifest. What
appointees have to ask (internally) is whether or not they wish to invest
anything of their future selves in their present experimental enterprise.
Reflexively, their answer can be ‘no’ to endorsing this social identity, in
which case their choice is corrigible; they can search for an alternative
source for their social identity. However, in the process of experimentation
they will have undergone certain subjective and objective changes.
Subjectively, they have acquired some new self-knowledge which will
impact upon their personal identity. They are now people who know that
they are bored by x, disillusioned by y and uneasy with z. Yet, they have also
changed objectively and consequently the opportunity costs for their
revised ‘second choices’ have altered in such a way that it may be harder to
come by corrected positions.
(c) Once subjects have found a satisfying social role, whether on the
first or subsequent corrected attempts, they have a decision to make, name-
ly, ‘how much of myself am I prepared to invest in it?’ This is the moment of
synthesis between personal and social identity, which takes the P.I. < — > S.I.
form. Those who have experienced enough of a role to wish to make some
of its associated interests their own have also changed, to the extent that
they now know that they do indeed find such activities worthwhile. Quite
literally they have lost their disinterested stance because they now see their
self-worth as being constituted by occupying a particular role. However,
most roles are greedy consumers; there are never enough hours in the day

21
See Margaret S. Archer, Andrew Collier and Douglas V. Porpora, Transcendence:
Critical Realism and God, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, London, 2004.
282 MARGARET S. ARCHER

to be the ‘good’ academic, billing lawyer, or company executive, and a ‘good’


parent can be on the go around the clock. Does this mean that this crys-
tallising social identity swamps personal identity?
This cannot be the case for three reasons. To begin with, most of us hold
several social roles simultaneously. If all of them are ‘greedy’, who or what
moderates between their demands? Were this a matter which is simply set-
tled by the strength of these competing role demands, then we would again
have reconciled ourselves to the ‘passive agent’. Secondly, if it is assumed
that subjects themselves conduct the arbitration, then we have to ask who
exactly is doing this? The answer can only be a person. Yet, if it is indeed the
person who has these abilities, then it has to be granted that if subjects can
‘weigh’ one role against another they can also evaluate their social concerns
against their other commitments. This is precisely what it was argued that
the ‘adult’ internal conversation was about. Certainly, a recent role incum-
bent brings new and socially derived information into the inner dialogue
but in relation to the claims of other ongoing concerns. Only dialogically
can their prioritisation and accommodation be worked out.
The resultant is a personal identity within which the social identity has
been assigned its place in the life of an individual. That place may be large
(‘she lives for her work’) or small (‘he’s only in it for the money’), but there is
nothing that ensures social concerns have top priority. It is the person who
prioritises. Even if conditions are such that good reason is found for devot-
ing many hours to, say, monotonous employment, nothing insists that sub-
jects do it wholeheartedly. Thirdly, in determining how much of themselves
anyone will put into their various ultimate concerns, they are simultaneous-
ly deciding what they will put in. It has to be the person who does this, act-
ing as he or she does in the role precisely because they are the particular per-
son that they have become. By allowing that we need a person to do the
active personifying, it finally has to be conceded that our personal identities
are not reducible to being gifts of society. Unless personal identity is indeed
allowed on these terms, then there is no way in which strict social identity
can be achieved. Personification needs a person: without personification no
social identity derives from any role. In the process, our social identity also
becomes defined, but necessarily as a sub-set of personal identity.

CONCLUSION

The foregoing argument aimed to secure a concept of the person who is


active and reflexive; someone who has the properties and powers to moni-
PERSONS AND ULTIMATE CONCERNS: WHO WE ARE IS WHAT WE CARE ABOUT 283

tor his or her own life, to mediate structural and cultural properties of soci-
ety and thus to contribute to societal reproduction or transformation.
However, the process of being a person is ongoing because throughout life
we continue our reflexive work. The internal conversation is never suspend-
ed, it rarely sleeps, and what it is doing throughout the endless contingent
circumstances encountered is continuously monitoring the subject’s con-
cerns. Inwardly, the subject is living a rich unseen life that is evaluative
(rather than calculative, as is the case for Modernity’s Man) and that is med-
itative (rather than appropriative, as is the lot of Society’s Being). What these
subjects are doing is conducting an endless assessment of whether or not
what they once devoted themselves to as their ultimate concern(s) is still
worthy of this devotion (or calls for yet more) and if the price which was
once paid for subordinating and accommodating other concerns is still one
with which the subject can live (or ought to live still more wholeheartedly).
In a nutshell, the person, as presented here in his or her concrete sin-
gularity, has powers of reflexive monitoring of both self and society. These
are far outside the register of ‘Modernity’s Man’, who remains shackled to
his own individualistic preference schedule. In parallel, this person is also
capable of authentic creativity which can transform ‘society’s conversa-
tion’ in a radical way – one that is foreign to ‘Society’s Being’ who is con-
demned to making conventionally acceptable permutations upon it.
Ultimately, it is this transformative creativity, deriving from the response
of human persons to unconditional love that forever holds open the door
to the two Kingdoms becoming one.
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON
AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT:
AN ‘AFTER’-MODERN PARADIGM FOR THE SOCIAL
SCIENCES (OR: THE ‘ECONOMY’ OF HUMAN PERSONS
LIES ON THEIR ULTIMATE CONCERNS)

PIERPAOLO DONATI

1. THE NOVELTY OF THE ISSUE

Margaret Archer’s main issue concerns the vexatious question of how to


conceptualise the human person as a living subject (i.e. having an existence,
meaning ex-sistere: to be out) from the viewpoint of the social sciences
broadly understood. The main difficulty does not consist in seeing what a
human person is made of (i.e. the unity of body and mind, the continuity
of a ‘substance’ together with its ‘accidents’, etc.), but what relates the sin-
gle components of the human person (their properties and powers) to
themselves and to the external world.
Archer deliberately starts the story from the Enlightenment. Why does
she do so? Why not to start from previous eras, as scholars often do, par-
ticularly when trying to define the human person? The answer is trivial, but
it deserves to be explained: the answer is that the social sciences she is talk-
ing about have been born with modernity. The attempt to tackle the issue
by going back to previous conceptualisations would be vain. This is so for
two main reasons.
i) The issue, as Archer proposes it, has not been ‘thematised’ (under-
stood as a theme in itself) before the modern epoch. In other words, ‘the
social dimensions’ of the human person in his/her inner and outer life do
not represent a meaningful and central issue per se in pre-modern thought,
from ancient Greece to the Middle Age. So much so that, if we try to under-
stand the social dimensions of the human person by relying upon the clas-
sical philosophical categories, we come across ‘natural explanations’ which
cannot grasp the reality we are trying to explain.
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT 285

ii) The challenges issued by modern and post-modern society to the


very existence of the human person have no precedent in the history. These
challenges are so great and radical that they require the elaboration of a
new paradigm, based on a social ontology able to comprehend the empiri-
cal evidences as offered by the social sciences. For the first time in history,
our society describes itself as non-human, and even anti-human, in deeply
conscious and convincing ways.
To put it bluntly, the issue of understanding the human person from the
viewpoint of the social sciences can certainly resort to the wisdom and
knowledge of the classical thought, but cannot find a solution within it. The
basic reason for that is that modernity has generated the issue of the social
relationality inherent in the human person on the basis of modalities, which
did not exist before the explosion of modernity. The unity of the human per-
son has been submitted to processes of differentiation in every dimension.
The relations between the differentiated dimensions (what one calls today
‘the process of individualisation of the individual’) cannot be approached
by applying to pre-modern knowledge categories.
In which way and to what extent this situation implies a revision of
classical metaphysics is a topic that has been largely perceived, but cer-
tainly not solved. The revision should take into account the fact that
classical metaphysics deals with the human person within the general
ontology of entia, while the modern turn implies a distinct ontology of
the human person as different from the other entia.1 The issue put for-
ward by Archer appeals to an ontology of ‘the social’ which is still to be
fully developed.
Classical philosophy has conceived of the social as a pure ‘accident’,
which can be separated from the substance or nature of the ens.2 If we con-
ceptualise the ‘sociability’ of the human person as relationality which is
‘constitutive’ of him/her, we must go further than the distinction between
substance and accident. We must treat the relational character (natural,
practical, social and spiritual) of the human person as co-essential to
his/her existence and to our understanding.

1
Cfr. Leonardo Polo, Quién es el hombre. Un espiritu en el mundo, Ed. Rialp, Madrid,
1991; Id., Presente y futuro del hombre, Ed. Rialp, Madrid, 1993.
2
See for instance: Cornelio Fabro, Dall’essere all’esistente. Hegel, Kierkegaard, Heidegger
e Jaspers, Marietti 1820, Genova-Milano, 2004.
286 PIERPAOLO DONATI

Archer responds to the challenge. She does so in an original way, in a


distinctive way in respect to almost all those thinkers who have dealt with
the same issue, for instance M. Buber and M. Heidegger and, as concerns
sociology, the various schools which go back to the classics (Durkheim,
Weber, Pareto and Simmel). They are rightly put under the headings of
reductionist and conflationary theories.

2. ARCHER’S THESIS ABOUT THE SHORTCOMING OF MODERNITY IN DEALING WITH


THE HUMAN PERSON AND THE NEED FOR A NEW PERSPECTIVE

Professor Archer maintains that modernity has brought about an issue,


the relational constitution of the human person, while treating it on the
basis of distorted approaches, which cannot account for what really gener-
ates and regenerates the human person.
The sociological problem of conceptualising the person is how to
capture someone who is both partly formed by their sociality, but
also has the capacity to transform their society in some part. The
difficulty is that social theorising has oscillated between these two
extremes. On the one hand, Enlightenment thought promoted an
‘undersocialised’ view of man, one whose human constitution owed
nothing to society and was thus a self-sufficient ‘outsider’ who sim-
ply operated in a social environment. On the other hand, there is a
later but pervasive ‘oversocialised’ view of man, whose every fea-
ture, beyond his biology, is shaped and moulded by his social con-
text. He thus becomes such a dependent ‘insider’ that he has no
capacity to transform his social environment (Archer, 2005).
Archer points out that modernity is intrinsically unbalanced: it sees
only the over-socialisation and the under-socialisation of the human per-
son. The well-known distinction between homo sociologicus and homo
oeconomicus is based on these reductions.
Archer claims that the dilemma lies in the circular loop which links the
person to society: the person is ‘both “child” and “parent” of society’, the
generated and the generator at the same time. We need a new scientific par-
adigm to understand how the human person can be both (i) dependent on
society (a supine social product) and (b) autonomous and possessing its
own powers (a self-sufficient maker). Classical philosophical thought has
coped with this dilemma in a quite simple way: it has reduced the depend-
ence on society to contingency and it has treated autonomy by means of the
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT 287

concept of substance. A ‘solution’ which refers to a low-complex and ‘non-


relational’ society.
The idea of classical philosophy, according to which the person is a sub-
stance and society is an accidental reality, cannot be sustained any longer
if we want to understand the vicissitudes and the destiny of the post-mod-
ern man. After modernity, it is not possible to understand social relations
basically as a projection of the human person.
Differently from classical thought, which denies the paradox inherent
in the sociality of man, modernity accepts it and, more than that, it gener-
ates it. But the question is: how does modernity solve the paradox, granti-
ng that it tries to solve it?
Professor Archer claims that modernity looks for possible solutions by
adopting conflationary epistemologies. And by this way modern social sci-
ences lose the human person as such. She is undoubtedly right. So we are left
with the task of ‘rescuing’ the singularity of each human person, his/her dig-
nity and irreducibility, and, at the same time, of seeing the embodiment and
embeddedness of the person in social reality without confusing or separating
the two faces (singularity and sociality). How can this task be accomplished?
Professor Archer proposes
a better conception of man, from the perspective of social realism,
which grants humankind (i) temporal priority, (ii) relative autono-
my, and (iii) causal efficacy, in relation to the social beings that they
become and the powers of transformative reflection and action
which they bring to their social context, powers that are independ-
ent of social mediation
These three operations (i, ii, iii) – as seen from the viewpoint of the
social realism – are not easy to be understood where one wishes to avoid a
desocialised vision of the human person. As a matter of fact, Archer’s pro-
posal is to open a new perspective (a relational perspective) on the process-
es of human socialisation. The novelty lies in prompting that there is a tem-
poral priority of the person vis-à-vis society (which is counter-intuitive), in
conceiving of autonomy as experience guided by an internal conversation
and by understanding the concept of ‘relative’ as ‘relational’, and by restor-
ing the notion of causality.
These operations become likely within a theory that, going well beyond
modern social sciences, states that:
– reality is stratified: whichever kind of reality we are observing, it is
made up with multiple layers, each one possessing its own powers and
emergent properties;
288 PIERPAOLO DONATI

– in between the layers, there exists a temporal relationality, which


means that powers and properties are emergent effects;
– all in all, the relationality of the human person is conceivable as a
morphostatic/morphogenetic process.
By adopting this social theory, based upon a realist epistemology
(which is called critical, analytical, and relational, without being relation-
ist), it becomes possible to perform some operations which otherwise
would be impossible.
1) We can see the pre-social and meta-social reality of the human per-
son, so that the human person cannot be reduced neither to a social prod-
uct (conflated with society) nor to an idealistic concept;
2) We can observe the identity of the self, its continuity and its ability to
mature within and through social interactions, while displaying between
nature and the ultimate concerns.
3) We can see how the singularity of the human person is realised in a
unique and necessary combination of four orders of reality (natural, prac-
tical, social, spiritual or supernatural), so that the contingency turns into a
necessity if the person must personalise his/herself and thus becoming
‘more’ human.
The challenge of the widespread argument about ‘the individualisation
of the individual’ is turned into the argument of ‘the personalisation of the
person’.

3. WHY AN AFTER-MODERN PARADIGM?

The sweeping criticism of the modern social sciences worked out by


Professor Archer (what she calls the two complementary faces of
Modernity’s Man and Society’s being) is intended to overcome the mod-
ernism itself as a mentality and as an obsolete scientific paradigm. That’s
why I believe that Archer is developing an after-modern way of theorising
about social reality, and consequently about the human person.
She is able to show, in a clear and well argued way, how the two main
strands of modern social sciences are now conflating in a particular version
(the central conflation between agency and structure) – which can be also
called the lib/lab conflation – where the human person and the surrounding
society are mutually interacting and generating each other without the
chance to distinguish between different contributions, properties, powers
and the temporal phases of the processes.
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT 289

As I have already said, Archer rejects all forms of conflationary thought


by elaborating the paradigm of morphogenesis/morphostasis, based upon a
social ontology in which the human person recovers his/her priority both
logical and temporal, but without getting into a metaphysical abstraction or
an idealist entity. I’d like to reformulate her view in the following way. I sug-
gest to criss-cross Archer’s scheme concerning the development of the self3
with the AGIL scheme as revised in the relational theory of society4 (fig. 1).
The human person is someone who, standing in between the natural
world (bio-physical) and transcendence, develops through social interac-
tion. At the start, the person is a subject or potential self (‘I’) who, through
experience (practice), gets out of nature and becomes a primary agent
(‘me’), then a corporate agent (‘we’), then an actor (auctor) (‘you’). To me, it
is at this point that the dialectic I/you meets the need to cope with the tran-
scendental world. Then the subject returns on to the ‘I’ as self. The ‘exit’
from nature must always pass through the nature again and again. The
transcendental reality is treated in the reflexive phase that the subject
realises after having passed through practice and sociality. Through these
passages, the subject becomes a more mature self-living in society.
Every mode of being a self (as I, me, we, you) is a dialogue (an inter-
nal conversation) with her own ‘I’. The battlefields are everywhere. But I’d
like to emphasise that they are particularly meaningful (i) at the borders
between the ‘I’ and the bio-physical nature, (ii) in social interactions, (iii)
at the borders with the transcendental world (see fig. 1). Professor Archer
discusses the third area in detail because this battlefield is the most
underestimated within the social sciences. She makes clear how the
human person can get a progressive divinisation (Theosis) while being in
the world. Fig. 1 of my commentary makes it explicit that the You can go
out of the social and come back to it without living the circle of practice
and experience of the world. That is why the personal identity (PI)
emerges as distinct from the social identity (SI) exactly because the for-
mer is in constant interaction with the latter: but the latter (SI) is subor-
dinated (i.e. is a sub-set) to the former (PI):
Social identity is the capacity to express what we care about in social
roles that are appropriate for doing this. Social identity comes from
adopting a role and personifying it in a singular manner, rather than

3
See M. Archer, Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, 2003, pp. 123-129.
4
See P. Donati, Teoria relazionale della società, Angeli, Milano, 1991, ch. 4.
290 PIERPAOLO DONATI

simply animating it. But here we meet a dilemma. It seems as though


we have to call upon personal identity to account for who does the
active personification. Yet, it also appears that we cannot make such
an appeal, for on this account it looks as though personal identity
cannot be attained before social identity is achieved. How otherwise
can people evaluate their social concerns against other kinds of con-
cerns when ordering their ultimate concerns? Conversely, it also
seems as if the achievement of social identity is dependent upon
someone having sufficient personal identity to personify any role in
their unique manner. This is the dilemma. The only way out of it is
to accept the existence of a dialectical relationship between personal
and social identities. Yet if this is to be more than fudging, then it is
necessary to venture three ‘moments’ of the interplay (Personal
Identity <——> Social Identity) which culminate in a synthesis such
that both personal and social identities are emergent and distinct,
although they contributed to one another’s emergence and distinctive-
ness. ... By allowing that we need a person to do the active personi-
fying, it finally has to be conceded that our personal identities are not
reducible to being gifts of society. Unless personal identity is indeed
allowed on these terms, then there is no way in which strict social
identity can be achieved. In the process, our social identity also
becomes defined, but necessarily as a sub-set of personal identity.
Society is surely a contingent reality, but contingency does not mean
pure accident. It is in fact the notion of contingency which is in need for
new semantics. Contingency can mean ‘dependency on’ (Parsons), or ‘the
chance not to be, and therefore to be potentially always otherwise’
(Luhmann), but it can also mean ‘the need for personal identity to mature
through social identity’. The third position implies that contingency can be
monitored by the ‘sense of self’, and guided through the internal conversa-
tion of the subject.
Without this different semantics of contingency, the human person
could not take the steps, which are necessary to go from nature to the
supernatural world, discovering its transcendence in respect to society. This
is the deepest sense of reflexivity as the proper operation of that ‘internal
conversation’ which makes the human person more human. The social rela-
tionality is precisely the fuel or food for the reflexivity, which makes the
human person effective.
If we apply the AGIL scheme (in the revised, relational version I have
offered in the book ‘Teoria relazionale della società’) to the sequence I-me-
we-you, we can see a quite curious thing: the natural world occupies the
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT 291

Legenda:
‘I’-Subject = person at T1 as self (individual-private), having its ‘sense of self’.
Me = person at T2 as primary agency (private collective).
We = person at T3 as corporate agency (collective public).
You = person at T4 as actor (public individual).
(the sequence is taken from M. Archer, Structure, Agency and the Internal
Conversation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, pp. 123-129).
The capital letters A,G,I,L correspond to the relational AGIL scheme (P. Donati,
Teoria relazionale della società, Angeli, Milano, 1991, ch. 4).

Fig. 1. The conceptualisation of the human person as someone who develops in


between nature, practice, social interaction and transcendence.

dimension (function) of latency, while the transcendental world occupies


the dimension (function) of adaptation. Why so? My interpretation is that
the self is a latent reality rooted in its nature, while the means which realise
the human person as such do not consist of material instruments, nor of
practices as such, not to mention the processes of socialisation due to the
contrainte sociale, but consist of its ultimate concerns. From this perspective
we can better understand the meaning of Archer’s statement according to
which ‘who we are is what we care about’: it means that our self becomes
what it generates in the ‘I’ by way of adaptation to (confrontation with) the
ultimate concerns during the life span.
292 PIERPAOLO DONATI

This internal work (reflexivity) must be accomplished in the dialogue that


the ‘I’ has with itself, i.e. when the ‘I’ asks who is really its own ‘I’ when con-
fronted with a Me, a We (fellowship) and a You (one who play a social role in
which ultimate concerns are involved). To operate the distinction, ‘the “I” of
my “I”’ does not mean to be self-referential by re-entering the same distinc-
tion (as Luhman thinks): it is also, and at the same time, to choose which
environment to refer to (and therefore it is also an etero-referential operation,
but accomplished by the same identical person). When discussing with
his/herself and deciding where to bring the ‘I’, one self has to be both self-ref-
erent and etero-referent (this is where ‘the social’ comes into play).
In order to understand the process of humanisation of the person, it is
necessary to disprove the epistemic fallacy according to which ‘what reali-
ty is taken to be, courtesy of our instrumental rationality or social dis-
course, is substituted for reality itself’ (Archer). In other words, in order to
arrive at a scientific model able to avoid any conflation in the understand-
ing of the human person as a relational being, it is necessary to refute what
is known today as epistemological ‘constructionism’, be it radical or mod-
erate. This can be done by using what I’d like to call the epistemic triangle
suggested by critical realism (fig. 2).
As a matter of fact, most contemporary social sciences claim that: i) the
human person can be known only as a product of knowledge (the person is
viewed as a cultural production of socialisation), meaning that the knower
can only know through the cultural products of the context he lives in; ii)
the relation between knowledge and known is supposed to be relativistic;
iii) the experienced relation of the knower towards the known is reified
(Pierre Bourdieu gives us an excellent example).

Fig. 2. The epistemic triangle of critical realism. (Note that ‘experienced relation’
means natural, practical, social and transcendental).
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT 293

Professor Archer is able not only to criticise all these assumptions, but
also to clearly show how, behind the methodological and epistemological
debate, lies an ‘ontological issue’. What we are used to call methodologi-
cal individualism and methodological holism harbour opposite ontolo-
gies that she calls anthropocentricism and sociocentricism. Only the epis-
temic triangle can overcome this fallacies, in so far as it allows us (i) to
distinguish between knower, known and knowledge as stratified realities
of different orders, (ii) to consider their relations as reflexivity driven
(instead of being reified) (fig. 2).
In Archer’s conceptual framework, personal knowledge is the product
of a complex series of operations, done by the self, through a reflexive
activity in relation to the reality to be known, in which the knowledge
already existing in society (its ‘culture’) is only a given (in systemic terms:
an environment).
Only this epistemic triangle can valorise the human person as subject
and object of his/her own activity.

4. A FEW QUESTIONS

The work by Archer offers many suggestions, which should be treated


more properly and more deeply than I can do here. Let me just raise some
questions.
With reference to my fig. 1, we can envisage the following open issues.
They lie a) at the borders between nature and the person in society, b) in the
relationships between the internal reflexivity of the person and its social net-
works, c) at the boundaries between the human person and transcendence.
a) The border between nature and the person in society (the battlefield of
practical experience) becomes more and more problematic in so far as soci-
ety changes nature continuously. Certainly nature reacts. But changes pro-
duced by science and technology are challenging the ability of the human
person to dialogue with nature in its very roots. The question is: is/will the
subject be able to relate itself to nature when society has made/shall make
nature more and more unrecognizable, or fuzzier and fuzzier? It is evident
that changes in the natural world can shift the thresholds within which the
experience of the ‘sense of self’ can be adequately managed.
b) The second question concerns the relation between the internal
reflexivity of the person and the social networks he/she belongs to. The core
claim of Archer’s argument is that consciousness should be understood as
294 PIERPAOLO DONATI

emergent, where emergence implies the non-reducibility of analysis; the


epistemological impossibility of the reduction of the emergent state is
determined by the constitutive feature of consciousness, namely, reflexivity.
I agree on that. But, possibly, the emphasis on the internal reflexivity needs
to be connected to the properties and powers of the social networks in
which people live, given that these networks may have their own ‘reflexivi-
ty’ (of a different kind).
c) The third set of questions concerns the borders between the person
and the transcendental world. The ability of the human person to connect
him/herself to the transcendental world strongly depends on his/her abil-
ity to ‘symbolise’, i.e. to understand and appropriate the symbolic world
(to know reality through symbols). The question is: how is this ability pro-
duced in the internal conversation? How is it promoted or endangered by
society? Certainly we must distinguish between different types of sym-
bols: prelinguistic, linguistic and ‘appresentative’ (in the Luhmannian
sense). But it seems to me that much effort should be made in under-
standing the importance of symbols – their formation and their use – to
get a person properly involved in the supernatural. My feeling is that soci-
ology has reduced the symbols to what sociologists call the ‘media’ (the
generalised media of interchange according to Parsons and the gener-
alised means of communication according to Luhmann). It is evident that
symbols cannot be reduced to ‘means’ when dealing with the transcen-
dental world. There is the need to better understand the role of symbols
in Archer’s framework.
To conclude. The emergentist paradigm worked out by Professor
Archer in order to understand the human person puts the old query of the
relation between personal identity and social identity in new terms. I have
used the word after-modern to catch it.
Within the social sciences, the relation Personal Identity ←→ Social
Identity is usually observed as an antithesis by. But it is clearly not an
antithesis. It is an interactive elaboration, which develops over time, pro-
vided that the personal identity side operates it. It can induce humanisation
only by being asymmetric.
We can therefore go well beyond those scholars who, in the last centu-
ry, have thought of the relation between Personal Identity and Social
Identity as something necessarily reifying the person (neo-marxists) or
conceiving it in dualistic terms (for instance Buber, but also Habermas and
many others). The human person must deal with all kinds of social rela-
tions. We need not to oppose system relations and lifeworld relations, good
UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PERSON AS A RELATIONAL SUBJECT 295

and bad relations ‘in themselves’, or warm and cold relations as Toennies
referred to, in so far as what is relevant is the reflexivity of the human per-
son in dealing with them.
Only this vision can explain why and how the human person can
emerge from social interactions, while he/she precedes and goes beyond
society. In short, the relation between PI and SI is a dialogue between the
lifeworld (intersubjective relations) and social institutions (role relations),
but it must not be conceived as symmetric, because it is acted by the sub-
ject (agent and actor) who does not want simply to animate a role, but also
to personify it in a singular manner.
Archer’s vision has positive implications in the long run: her critical
realism allows us to give room to, to think of and to promote the capabili-
ties of the human person to forge a more human society, notwithstanding
the fact that modernity has brought us into an anti-human era. That’s why
I have tried to comment on her paper, by saying that the ‘economy’ of the
human beings does not lie on their natural, physical or material means, but
on what fuels their ultimate concerns.
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE
OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

ROM HARRÉ

ABSTRACT

In every scientific endeavour one must try to locate the sources of activity.
In physics these are fields, in chemistry ions and so on. What are they
in social sciences?
Persons.
Persons are morally protected embodied centres of reflexive conscious-
ness. They are actively engaged in deploying bodies of knowledge in joint
activities with others. The sense of personhood is analysable into a sense of
living a continuous trajectory in space and time – tied to mode of embodi-
ment, and a sense of ‘self’. This comprises beliefs about one’s past life,
capacities and powers, social location and so on, including bodies of knowl-
edge and belief apropos of correct and proper action. The sense of one’s
selfhood does require a conversational community, and a developmental
psychology such as that of Vygotsky.
The duality of personhood is reflected in the grammar of the 1st person,
which indexes the content of an utterance with the place and moment of
utterance, with the presumed moral status of the speaker, and, in some cul-
tures, with the social status of the speaker relative to interlocutors.
Social constructionists believe that people are the only sources of effi-
cacy in the human world, apart from the material effects of the environ-
ment. However, people can do only what they know how to do. Boundaries
of social knowledge are boundaries of intelligible social action. Moreover,
people do only what they believe is the right thing to do, and, of course not
always then.
Positioning theory is an analytical scheme that can be used to reveal the
inter-relation between speech acts, social meanings of what is said or done;
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 297

local clusters of rights and duties that influence what people choose to do
out of all they know how to do; and story lines, the cultural schemas for liv-
ing out strips of everyday life.
Constraints on and opportunities for action arise through local acts of
positioning.

THE TRUE DOMAIN OF THINKING

To appreciate the significance of positioning analyses one must first


reflect on some main features of the relations between language and
thought and language and action. Thinking has many forms, but the form
that is of paramount importance for most people is thinking as the use of
cognitive tools to carry out the tasks of everyday life. The most important
cognitive tools are symbols, usually words and other language like devices,
and models and other forms of iconic representation. Only recently has it
been realised by psychologists that thinking can be communal as well as
individual, public as well as private.
That insight leads to reflections on the question of where and when peo-
ple are thinking. The domain of thinking is intrapersonal and interperson-
al. Thinking is not only an Individual – Personal activity but also a Social –
Public one. For example, the process of remembering includes conversa-
tional as well as introspective activities. Members of a family group, or a
committee, or the golf club reminisce, each contributing something to the
construction of a version of the past. It is communally constructed, and
each member takes away with them some version of that version on which
further action is often based. It follows that there are exterograms, records
of the past outside the brain of a person, as well as engrams, traces of the
past incorporated in the long term memory. There are legible material
things, such as diaries, photos and monuments. There are the relevant say-
ings and doings of other people. These are all resources for acts of remem-
bering, often over riding personal recollections.
There are plenty of examples of thinking spanning both the Individual
– Personal Social – Public domains. In deciding what to do a person will
spend time on private reflections of the consequences of a plan of action,
perhaps attempting to imagine the future in some concrete way. However,
often there are public discussions; people go about seeking advice on the
best course of action. There are influences from the unstated opinions of
others which may show up indirectly in what they do and say. There are
298 ROM HARRÉ

informal varieties of the formal decision procedures involving agendas, res-


olutions, amendments, votes and so on.
Clearly interpersonal relations must enter into communal forms of
remembering, deciding, problem solving and so on. Among the most impor-
tant are rights and duties and their distribution among the people involved.

VYGOTSKY’S PRINCIPLE

According to Vygotsky all higher order mental processes exist twice;


once in the relevant group, influenced by culture and history, and then in
the mind of the individual. The development of a human being is depend-
ent as much on interpersonal relations as it is on individual maturation.
Here is the famous passage from Vygotsky (1978: 57):
Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice:
first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first
between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child
(intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention,
to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the high-
er functions originate as actual relationships between individuals
(Vygotsky, 1978: 57).
The appropriation of public-social practices as personal-individual
skills comes about by a kind of psychological symbiosis. When an activity
is in the Zone of Proximal Development, Vygotsky’s rather clumsy phrase,
the less skilled member of a dyad tries to accomplish some task (which may
be recognizing the task required in the first place). If the junior member is
unable to carry through the performance correctly, the senior or more
skilled member supplements the efforts of the less competent in such a way
as to bring the task to a successful conclusion. The junior member copies
the contributions of the senior next time the opportunity arises. Thus indi-
vidual – personal skills are transferred in social – public performances.
Sometimes the contribution of the more skilled member of a group is
hands-on showing and guiding, sometimes it is accomplished by words and
other signs. Whatever device is employed one thing is of paramount impor-
tance in the unfolding of such an episode – the distribution and acknowl-
edgement of rights and duties among the members. In both communal
thought processes and in Vygotskian development the distribution of power
in the group is closely tied in with the assignments and appropriations of
rights and duties.
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 299

It is important to emphasize that Vygotsky’s ideas about how a human


mind is formed do not imply social determinism. People are capable of and
actually do transform the cognitive skills, moral principles and so on, that
they acquire by psychological symbiosis. Some of these transformations
are spontaneous; some are due to the influence of other persons, life events,
even the material environment. The human mind is dynamic.
So too is the moral order of close encounters.

THE CONCEPT OF A PERSON

The concept of ‘person’ is intimately linked with manifold moral con-


siderations. Part of my aim in this paper is to take a somewhat different
stance to the way these linkages come to be and are maintained.
Discussions of moral attributes of persons in society, and particularly with
regard to law and economics, begin from the assumption that the struc-
tures in which the concepts of ‘person’ are to be considered are of very
broad dimensions. Perhaps consideration is given via reflections on the
rights of human beings as recognized and protected in international law,
which presupposes at least potentially a scope as large as humanity.
Discussions of the effect of globalization the economic order of the pre-
conception of the person as an economic unit, a fortiori, have a global ref-
erence. In this paper my focus is on the creation and maintenance of moral
orders and their embedded persons on a very small scale, and in the course
of short-lived, even ephemeral human encounters.

DUALITY OF THE CONCEPT OF ‘PERSON’

The concept of ‘person’ has an ontological aspect: a person is member


of a loosely bounded domain of basic particulars, singular beings that col-
lectively constitute the world of humanity.
The concept of a ‘person’ has a moral aspect: being a person attracts
certain kinds of normative demands, both on how a person is to be treat-
ed, and how a person is to act. Persons are morally protected and moral-
ly constrained.
So far so commonplace. However, two recent developments in the
philosophical analysis of personhood contribute some novel perspectives
on what it is to live as a person in a community of persons. At the same time
300 ROM HARRÉ

these developments raise the perennial issue of the proper balance between
rights and duties in a new way.
In keeping with the discursive turn in psychology, the linguistic devices
by which personhood is expressed and recognized has become a focus of
study. The main thrust has been to deepen and broaden an understanding of
the role of pronoun grammars in the discursive construction of social orders.
In keeping with the recent emphasis on the study of very small scale,
ephemeral and fine grain social encounters, the study of local moral orders,
local distributions of rights and duties to perform acts of various kinds has
been a focus of attention.
Taking these trends together leads to an interest in more dynamic
aspects of human life than social structures, institutions and roles.

ONTOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Every so often a philosopher comes to realise and to remind the rest of


us that human life is lived in a world of words and other symbolic devices.
Life is, among many other things, a story. Boethius, as Enrico Berti
reminds us (Berti, 2005), took the ‘rationality’ of humanity to be a matter
of fact, not only ‘reason’ but the mastery of discourse. Shotter, following
Wittgenstein, imagines the human form of life as an evolving pattern of lan-
guage games, activities in which the word is an essential ingredient. In
accordance with this intuition we might say that persons are eddies or vor-
tices in the great ocean flow of conversation, of symbolic interaction in gen-
eral. People are speakers and hearers. This has a moral dimension: if my
interlocutor is to be required to listen to me, I am equally required to listen
to whatever he or she might say. Speaking and listening are internally relat-
ed aspects of linguistic capacities.
It is also true that persons are embodied centres of reflexive conscious-
ness. The phrase I have chosen to express this aspect of the ontology of per-
sonhood already involves a resolution of the debate over the priority of bod-
ily identity and continuity of self-consciousness as the prime criterion for
continuous singular personhood. I shall presume that in all practical contexts
the prime criteria have equal weight unless special circumstances can be
brought into deciding whether this being is one and the same person as that.
The practice of psychiatry, the demands of the law and such matters of
commerce as financial responsibility make it a conceptual matter that there
is just one person per body. More than one person per body is stigmatised
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 301

as Multiple Personality Disorder, and the exotic customs of some strange


cultures that sometimes require more than one body to support just one
person are indeed presented as strange, even unintelligible.
In this paper I propose to show how the grammar of the first person is
the prime device by which these two domains of individuals are bound
together into a coherent social order. The linguistic property that makes this
possible is ‘indexicality’, the necessity to know certain personal things about
the speaker before the sense of what has been said can be completed.

TEMPORALITY

Not only do the tools of thought and action change with time, but so too
do the distributions of rights and duties among a group of people. The indi-
viduals involved in communal cognitive activities are the bearers of a com-
plex and labile psychology, some of which can be captured in a discussion
of ‘selves’. Though the English word ‘self’ does not translate easily into most
other languages, for instance into Spanish, nevertheless the concept can be
appropriated as a term of art for scientific purposes. We must take account
of how the mutability and multiplicity of self ties in rights and duties in
thought and action.
Persons ‘have’ selves. There seem to be four main items in personhood
that the word ‘self’ is currently used to pick out, in philosophical schools and
communities influenced by the use of English as the analytical language.
1. There is the embodied self, which comes down to the unity and con-
tinuity of a person’s point of view and of action in the material world,
a trajectory in space and time. The embodied self is singular, contin-
uous and self-identical.
2. Psychologists use the phrase ‘self-concept’ to refer to the beliefs that
people have about themselves, their skills, their moral qualities, their
fears and their life courses. But this concept covers a significant vari-
ety of sub-concepts.
a. There is the autobiographical self, the hero or heroine of all kinds
of stories. Research has shown how widely the autobiographical
selves of real people can differ from story to story. This is not a
matter of telling falsehoods, but of differences of emphasis
depending on audience and situation.
b. There is the social self or selves, the personal qualities that a per-
son displays in their encounters with others. This ‘self’ too is mul-
302 ROM HARRÉ

tiple. We have different repertoires of attributes appropriate for


showing in different circumstances.
What can change? Clearly the embodied self is invariant under the kind
of transformations that occur in everyday life. Changing jobs or partners,
the birth and death of family members, even moving into a new linguistic
community, does not disrupt the continuity of the sense of a trajectory of life
through space and time. When memories fade and anticipation of the future
dims the continuity of self fades with it, and though a living human body is
before us sometimes we are forced to acknowledge it is no longer an embod-
ied self. Moreover, the repertoire of social selves and the stories with which
one marshals one’s life may and do change, sometimes in radical ways.
Persons have rights and duties which are also distributed in a variety of
ways, depending on many factors, some of which involve the selves com-
prising the personhood of an individual. Here we encounter the province of
‘positioning theory’, the study of the way rights and duties are taken up and
laid down, ascribed and appropriated, refused and defended in the fine
grain of the encounters of daily lives. The analysis of ‘positioning’ will occu-
py the second main section of this paper.

THE LANGUAGE ANGLE

Language is the prime instrument of thought and social action. In fol-


lowing up the line of argument of the discussion so far, we must abandon
a widely held presupposition of much psychological and sociological
research, namely the stability, transcultural and even transpersonal intelli-
gibility of language. In so far as there are psychologically and sociological-
ly significant varieties of language, so there are many dimensions along
which we find multiplicities of selves.

Indexicality

Certain useful expressions, such as ‘here’, ‘now’, ‘this’ and pronouns and
inflexions of the first person, cannot be fully understood in any context,
unless the listeners are aware of who is speaking, where and when the per-
son is speaking, and various other characteristics the speaker is known or
believed to possess, such as moral character. This is the property of indexi-
cality. The content of what is said is completed in sense by use of these spe-
cial words to index it with the relevant attributes of the speaker.
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 303

‘Put this here now!’ To obey the command the person addressed needs
to know who is speaking, where and when the words are being uttered and
the right the speaker has to issue such an order.
For the English ‘I’ we have the following indexical forces:
1. Spatial location of embodied speaker.
2. Moment of utterance.
3. Moral standing of speaker, for example is the speaker known to be
reliable.
4. Social status of speaker, for instance what rights and duties the
speaker is endowed with or claims for him or herself.
It is easy to see that the grammar of ‘I’ is a prime device by which the
person as speaker is tied to the person as an embodied centre of reflexive
consciousness. In this way for all the complexity of its inner nature, each
human being is, or should be, one and only one person.
There are many pronoun systems and other person denoting devices in
the world’s languages. Indo-European languages reflect a sense of self as a
unique, independent individual. Oriental languages reflect a sense of self,
personhood, in which interdependence is prominent. For example, there
are differences in patterns of self-reflection between users of languages in
which pronouns index sayings with the speaking individual’s responsibility
for what is said, largely independently of their social affiliations, family
membership and so on, compared with those in which pronouns index
speech acts with the family group or social category to which a person
belongs. In Japanese there are many first person pronominal expressions,
the use of which displays the speaker’s and the hearer’s sense of relative
social position. ‘Watakushi’ is used to display higher status than is displayed
by the use of ‘watashi’. There is even a form, ‘ore’, which can be used to
index a speech act as one’s own, but which exempts the speaker from the
moral commitments of what he might say. (‘He’ is needed in this account
since pronoun use differs between men and women.) Modern urban
Japanese speakers largely omit pronouns, reflecting differences in the mod-
ern Japanese sense of self from the socially dominated sense of personhood
of the past, and, at the same time, a sense of the lingering expressive power
of the explicit pronominal forms.
This kind of research, along with ethnographic studies of social cus-
toms, the law and so on, enables one to see that while people in Japan,
Indonesia and other cultural domains in the East have just as robust a
sense of themselves as embodied centres of consciousness, subtle differ-
ences in the personhood can be seen in the fine details of the moral patterns
of personal encounters.
304 ROM HARRÉ

It is worth noticing that Indo-European languages do not inflect the


first or second person for gender or for age, though most inflect the second
person for social status. These differences in personhood are marked in dif-
ferent ways. English speakers have various linguistic devices for addressing
the old, mostly slightly derogatory. Gender marking appears formally only
in the third person in European languages, though it is discernible in the
participles. ‘Soy cansado’ (‘I’m tired’) can be said only by men, and ‘Soy
cansada’ only by women.

Transitory Significances

Languages are unstable, in the sense that significance of utterances is


likely to vary from time to time and situation to situation. For example,
there are subtle changes of the word ‘captain’ from its use in ships, teams
and planes. Technically context includes indexicality, the contribution to
the meaning of an expression from knowledge of the place, time and per-
son of utterance which I have just discussed.
Then there is historicity, the way a word’s current use is loaded with its
past history. No one can use the words ‘twin towers’ now in the kind of gener-
ic descriptive way for some architectural feature, as it was used before ‘9/11’.
For the purposes of the presentation of the creation and maintenance
of small scale and ephemeral social order the way that social relations part-
ly determine the moment by moment significance of utterances will be of
paramount importance. For example, take such a simple utterance as ‘I am
going out; I might be some time’. Think of the way being married sets up a
pattern of social relations between a man and a woman and so informs the
significance of utterances such as ‘I am going out; I might be some time’.
And then think of these words as famously uttered by Captain Oates on
Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition, as he wandered off into the blizzard to
relieve his companions of the burden of caring for him. This aspect of the
meanings of speaking and acting is one of the central aspects of the field of
‘positioning theory’.

MORAL CONSIDERATIONS OF SCALE

Discussion of the moral status pf persons in large scale structures, such


as national constitutions, international law, globalised economies and so on,
have been dominated since the seventeenth century by discussions of rights.
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 305

Every Constituent Assembly sets about devising its own Bill of Rights, mod-
elled perhaps on the realization of Tom Paine’s rhetorical developments of
Lockean political philosophy. Rights legislation is exemplified wonderfully
well by the amendments to the American Constitution inspired by
Hamilton. I look in vain for a Bill of Duties.
It is no good saying that settling the ‘rights of man’ settles the matter of
duties. These are not reciprocal as moral concepts. There are all sorts of non-
moral ways in which the assertion of one’s rights can be satisfied by the
actions of those deemed responsible. For example, there is coercion, there is
endless complaining, and there is even the enforcement of action on an idle
or venal bureaucrat by a court and so on. A culture of rights in which there
is no place for a sense of duty among those delegated to satisfy them, is only
too possible. The reciprocal to ‘rights’ might be no more than a sullen com-
pliance under pressure of demand and the need to fulfil a job description.
However, on the scale at which the processes analyzed by Positioning
Theorists take place, there is a growing sense of the relevance of duty as a
moral concept, that is as incumbent on one’s conscience, a matter of what
it is to be a good person. Part of the thrust behind the development of
Positioning Theory has been the need those of us who pioneered this
approach have felt to revive the sense of duty, as a felt moral demand. There
should be no need for the poor to assert their rights. The sense of duty of
the better off should have been enough. That it has not been in the last cen-
tury is a matter of significance.
Foregrounding rights and duties pushes other moral concepts into a
secondary place. For example, the virtues of tolerance, benevolence and so
on, along with the utilitarian emphasis on the moral importance of happi-
ness, have no place in the moral universe of Positioning Theory.
Moreover, points of growth of moral sensibility are often found at loca-
tions in which some people have come recognize supererogatory duties. A
few people began to feel a duty to the natural environment, a supereroga-
tory duty that gradually metamorphosed into the formal duties expressed
in legislation. There is no such thing as a supererogatory right!

POSITIONING THEORY

Positioning Theory is the study of the nature, formation, influence and


ways of change of local systems of rights and duties as shared assumptions
about them influence small scale interactions. Positioning Theory is to be
306 ROM HARRÉ

seen in contrast to the older framework of Role Theory. Roles are relative-
ly fixed, often formally defined and long lasting. Even such phenomena as
‘role distance’ and ‘role strain’ presuppose the stability of the roles to which
they are related. Positioning Theory concerns conventions of speech and
action that are labile, contestable and ephemeral.
Positioning Theory is also independent of considerations of motivation,
except in so far as declarations of motives are social acts, aimed at making
one’s actions intelligible to others and sometimes to oneself. Positioning
Theory is particularly opposed to explanatory theories of human action
that posit motives as causes. For the most part people are best thought of
as trapped within discourse conventions. In the simplest case, everyday
conversations, one’s freedom to utter this or that statement is circum-
scribed by what has been said before and the conventions at work in shap-
ing a conversation of a certain kind.

Conditions of Meaningfulness

There are three relevant background conditions for the meaningfulness


of a flow of symbolic interactions. The media of such interactions include
linguistic performances, but also other symbolic systems. People make use
of religious icons, road signs, gestures and so on in the maintenance of the
flow of actions constitutive of a social episode.
a. The local repertoire of admissible social acts and meanings, in partic-
ular the illocutionary force of what is said and done. Illocutionary force is
the effective, then and there social significance of a speech, gesture or social
action. (Austin, 1959). The same verbal formula, gesture, flag or whatever,
may have a variety of meanings depending on who is using it, where and
for what. Uttering ‘I’m sorry’ may, in certain circumstances, be the per-
formance of an apology. It may also, in the UK, be a way of asking some-
one to repeat what has just been said. It may be a way of expressing
incredulity. There are no doubt other uses for the phrase.
b. The implicit pattern of the distribution of rights and duties to make
use of items from the local repertoires of the illocutionary forces of various
signs and utterances. Each distribution is a position. A mother has the right
to discipline her child in whatever way law and custom allow, but a visiting
neighbour does not. The right to issue the reprimand ‘Nice little girls say
“Thank you”’ is only available, properly, to a parent and perhaps a grand-
parent. Catholics have a duty to confess their sins individually, while
Protestants do not. Positions have this in common with roles, that they pre-
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 307

exist the people who occupy them, as part of the common knowledge of a
community, family, sports team and so on.
c. Every episode of human interaction is shaped by one or more story
lines which are usually taken for granted by those taking part in the
episode. The study of origins and plots of the story lines of a culture is the
work of narratology. There are strong connections too to autobiographical
psychology, the study of how, why and when people ‘tell their lives’ and to
whom. A train journey may be told as a ‘heroic quest’, and what would have
been complaints about lateness according to one story line become obsta-
cles to be bravely overcome. A solicitous remark can be construed as car-
ing according to one story line, but as an act of condescension according to
another (Davies & Harré, 1990).
Even in a brief schematic summary one can see the great variety of
story lines that may be realised in an encounter. The structural sequences
of the acts that constitute episodes of social life can be ordered by at least
the following background assumptions of a culture.
1. Story lines.
a. Folk tales and fairy stories.
b. Histories.
c. Soap operas and the like.
2. Ceremonies.
Managed by an existing script, rule book or manual
a. In the actors’ native language, such as a wedding ceremony in
Europe.
b. In a formal language, such as the Latin used in the degree giving
ceremony at Oxford.
3. Customs.
a. Never explicitly formulated, such as the way one should introduce
a stranger to the members of one’s family.
b. Passed on one to another informally, for example to who, when
and how much should one give as a tip.

THE POSITIONING ‘TRIANGLE’

The three background conditions mutually determine one another.


Presumptions about rights and duties are involved in fixing the moment by
moment meanings of speaking and acting, while both are influenced by
308 ROM HARRÉ

and influence the taken-for-granted story line. Challenges to the way an


episode is unfolding can be directed to any one of the three aspects. We can
represent this mutuality schematically as follows:

Position(s)

Illocutionary force(s) Story line(s)

Each such triangle is accompanied by shadowy alternatives, into which


it can modulate, or which can sometimes exist as competing and simulta-
neous readings of events.
There is a possible fourth vertex, the physical positions and stances of
the actors, for example, the doctor is standing while the patient is lying
down on the table; Hitler and Mussolini in Chapman’s film, outdoing each
other in elevating their chairs; studies of layout of furniture in offices,
which is differentiated by the status of the person whose office it is.

POSITIONING ANALYSIS

Some examples will illustrate the value of using Positioning Theory to


analyze the underlying structure of moral presuppositions that influence
the unfolding of an episode. How is the distribution of rights and duties cre-
ated and maintained in short term close human encounters?

Example: Taking charge

Marga Kreckel’s (1981) studies of life in a working class family revealed


the positioning structure of episodes of collective remembering. The fami-
ly consisted of middle aged parents and three sons each of whom had a
partner. Discussions frequently involved creating a version or story of
events of the past, in the process of deciding some future course of action.
The fiancée of the youngest son tried to make contributions to the remem-
bering project but her suggestions were never taken into account. She was
positioned as lacking any right to conduct memory work. Power and the
right to adjudicate disputes as to ‘what really happened’ was taken by the
mother. She positioned herself as the authority on the events of the previ-
ous weekend, and so appropriated both the right and the duty to admit or
refuse contributions to the agreed family history.
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 309

After the Osaka earthquake the newspapers reported how a person with
no official standing had taken charge of rescue operations. He began to
issue orders to people which were obeyed without question. The commu-
nity positioned him as ‘the person in charge’, thus ascribing certain rights
to him, supporting his own taking on of duties.

Example: Attribution of Personal Qualities Creates and Changes Positions

In giving an account of a scientific controversy Gilbert & Mulkay (1982:


390) show how a damaging character description ascribing certain faults to
the leader of a rival research team served to weaken the standing of the
team, disputing the right of the leader to be taken to be authoritative on the
structure of a certain compound. The effect of this repositioning echoed
round the positioning triangle, to change the illocutionary force of the pub-
lications of the rival team. The story line changed from ‘sober scientific
research’ to a ‘mad scramble for fame’, involving not dishonesty, but self-
deception. Paraphrasing a quotation we have a rival declaring ‘She is so
competitive that her results are suspect’, that is she has lost the right to be
believed. Declaring that a scientist’s results are ‘self-deception’ is to trans-
form their overt illocutionary force from fact stating to mere speculation.
Latour and Woolgar (1979: 119) report a conversation in which a rival’s
character was described as ‘he never dared putting in what was required,
brute force’. In this phrase he is positioned as lacking the right to be heard
in the scientific community.
On the other hand ascriptions of good character strengthen the rights
inherent in a position and again changes illocutionary force of what has
been said. ‘You are a very honest person, so we can trust you to keep prom-
ises’ is a paraphrase of an exchange between Dr. Kissinger and Secretary
Brezhnev reported in the Kissinger transcripts of his conversations with
foreign statesmen. Shortly afterwards Kissinger repositions himself with
respect to Brezhnev in a conversation with the Chinese, when he seems to
approve a remark by Ambassador Huang apropos the Russians: ‘... first
they will bully the weak and are afraid of the strong. And that their words
are not usually trustworthy’. Kissinger’s repositioning is confirmed by a
remark to a British diplomat that the Soviet leaders ‘capacity to lie on mat-
ters of common knowledge is stupendous’ (Moghaddam & Harré, 2003:
150-153). In the last remark we have an explicit re-interpreting of the illo-
cutionary force of Russian speech acts, so that the positioning and the story
line of the Kissinger-Brezhnev conversations are retrospectively revised.
310 ROM HARRÉ

As a general rule acts of positioning are preceded by and justified in


accordance with attributes of personal qualities to the person or persons
being positioned. Both rights and duties demand competencies of various
sorts, so beliefs about lack of skills and abilities relevant to a certain task
can be used to deny, delete or downgrade a default position.

Example: Simultaneous but Incompatible Positionings Possible with Same


words

A recent study of the documents produced by and interviews with the


protagonists of the two sides in a dispute between the Georgetown com-
munity and Georgetown University over the University’s development plans
yields nicely to positioning theory. Each party to the dispute read the very
same sentences, uttered by the protestors and by the University authorities
as having quite different illocutionary force. Each side constructed a story
line in which the opposition was cast as villainous and dishonest.
Statements by activists against development of University housing, such as
‘They should not build any more dormitories’ were interpreted by their
authors as examples of a brave stand against the bullying tactics of a privi-
leged institution. The story line was roughly this: ‘The University is
encroaching on the city without a right’, that is the activities of the com-
munity spokespersons were legitimate protests. The very same utterances
were interpreted by some on the side of the University authorities as typi-
cal expressions of jealous resentment. (Harré & Slocum, 2003: 130-135).

Example: Malignant Positioning

Tom Kitwood (1990) introduced the term ‘malignant psychology’ to


highlight the catastrophic effects of a priori psychological categorising of
people with declining powers in old age. Sabat (2003) introduced a devel-
opment of this idea in his expression ‘malignant positioning’. This reflected
a stance from which the ways that sufferers from Alzheimer’s Disease were
positioned in such a way that a demeaning and destructive story line was
set in motion.
Two brief illustrations of malignant positioning should make the con-
cept clear. Speaking of sufferers from Alzheimer’s a caretaker says ‘They
don’t know anything anymore’. In this remark a description of the appar-
ent loss of cognitive capacities by the elderly is used as a positioning
move, deleting certain rights, for example to be heard. Thus the utter-
POSITIONING THEORY AND MORAL STRUCTURE OF CLOSE ENCOUNTERS 311

ances of A’s are not listened to, and the story line is of non-humanity.
More startling still is the remark of a physician who introduces his story
line when he says ‘Treating an Alzheimer’s patient is like doing veterinary
medicine’ (Sabat, 2003: 87).
The result of malignant positioning is more complex. Sabat (2001)
describes in detail the lives of several sufferers from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Positioned as having no right to be heard, on the presumption that such peo-
ple have nothing worth listening to, the sufferer is cut off from communal
cognition, and the thinking together that is such a feature of language using
beings like ourselves. The strain of waiting for the person with word finding
problems to complete the expression of a thought quickly gives way to impa-
tient dismissal of the other as any sort of conversationalist.
Sabat reports the striking effect on the willingness with which a regular
visitor to the day care centre continued to struggle to express his thoughts
of officially appointing him to the Georgetown University research team,
studying the condition. This man re-entered the communal conversation.
In this and like ways the effects of malignant positioning can be reversed by
the restoration of rights (and sometimes the taking on of duties), that is by
repositioning the person. At the same time the dynamics of Positioning
Theory transforms the story line of daily episodes equally dramatically.
From seeing the days events as ‘mere filling’, Sabat’s retired professor came
to see it, and so to live it, as ongoing research.

CONCLUSION

The advent of Positioning Theory as a development of Vygotsky’s con-


ception of the person in an ocean of language, in intimate interaction with
others in the construction of a flow of public and social cognition, opens up
all sorts of insights and research opportunities. Moving beyond the overly
restrictive frame of Role Theory and the logical fallacies of a Sociology of
Casually Efficacious Structures it offers a conceptual system within which
to follow the unfolding of episodes of everyday life in new and illuminating
ways. The person in the Law and the person in the contemporary climate
of sensitivity to avoidable poverty have been presented as a being locked
into a contestable system of rights. By changing the scale of the investiga-
tion one can begin to redress the balance between rights and duties, as well
as making visible the moral orders of those close encounters which make
up the greater part of our lives.
312 ROM HARRÉ

REFERENCES

Austin, J.L. (1959) How to do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford University
Press.
Berti, E. (2005) ‘The classical notion of person in today’s philosophical
debate’. Paper presented at XI Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy
of Social Sciences.
Davies, B. & Harré, R. (1991) ‘Positioning’ Journal for the Theory of Social
Behaviour, 21, 1-18.
Gilbert, G. H. & Mulkay, M. (1982) ‘Warranting scientific beliefs’ Social
Studies of Science, 12, 383-408.
Harré, R. & van Langenhove, L. (1999) Positioning Theory. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Harré, R. & Moghaddam, F.M. (2003) The Self and Others. Westport, CT:
Praeger.
Harré, R. & Slocum, N. (2003) ‘Disputes as complex social events: the uses
of Positioning Theory’ In R. Harré & F.M. Moghaddam (2003) The Self
and Others. Westport, CT: Praeger, pp. 123-136.
Kitwood, T. (1990) ‘The dialectics of dementia: With special reference to
Alzheimer’s disease’. Aging and Society 10, 177-196.
Kreckel, M. (1981) Communicative Acts and Shared Knowledge in Natural
Language. London: Academic Press.
Latour, B. & Woolgar, S. (1979) Laboratory Life. Los Angeles: Sage.
Sabat, S.R. (2001) The Experience of Alzheimer’s. Oxford: Blackwell.
Sabat, S.R. (2003) ‘Malignant positioning’ In R. Harré & Moghaddam, F. M.
The Self and Others. Westport CT: Praeger, pp. 85-98.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
THE CONCEPT OF THE PERSON AS THE GIFT OF SOCIETY

MARGARET S. ARCHER

Rom Harré’s trilogy, Ways of Being, is briefly covered in the notes which
preface his text for this meeting: Social Being, Personal Being and Physical
Being. Social constructionism has become progressively more pronounced in
The Discursive Mind (1994) and particularly The Singular Self (1998). Together,
these volumes present the most comprehensive approach to the concept of the
person within social psychology. Their leitmotif can be summed up in one
quotation: ‘A person is not a natural object, but a cultural artefact’.1

HUMANITY’S INVOLVEMENT IN A MORAL ORDER

If viewed from the natural science model, the concept of the person
‘tempts us to think of such concepts as referring to causally potent inner
states of people. A closer look shows that the expression makes sense only
as a feature of discourse’.2 To Harré, we must change to a different and dis-
cursive ontology. This he schematises in the following diagram, which con-
trasts the Newtonian ontology, representing the mechanical picture of the
world, with the Vygotskyan ontology, appropriate to social psychology.

TWO ONTOLOGIES
Ontologies Locative Systems Entities Relations
Newtonian Space and time Things & Events Causality
Discursive Arrays of People Speech acts Rules & Storylines

Figure 1. The Discursive Mind.3

1
Rom Harré, Personal Being, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1983, p.20.
2
The Singular Self, Sage, London and Beverly Hills, 1998., p.51.
3
Rom Harré and Grant Gillett, The Discursive Mind, Sage, London and Beverly Hills,
1994, p. 29.
314 MARGARET S. ARCHER

The appropriateness of this discursive ontology derives directly from


the fact that the relations between ‘speech acts’ are not ones of causality. On
the contrary, Harré maintains that the ‘orderly structure of a conversation
is maintained by norms of correctness and propriety. This is not a causal
theory. In the physical world model, events and things are linked into struc-
tures and patterns by causal relations. But one speech-act does not cause
another. Rather, one speech-act makes another appropriate or normatively
accountable’.4 The acceptability of this ontology depends upon our acced-
ing that social life is purely conversational. Many other social theorists will
want to protest that some of its constituents – structural properties, cultur-
al constraints and the distributions of resources – cannot be reduced to
speech-acts, may never even entail them, and yet exert causal influences of
a constraining or enabling kind. Moreover, their causal influence does not
depend upon correct conversational diagnosis. For instance, our ‘life-
chances’ do not hinge upon our knowledge of them because the different
opportunities associated with different social origins are independent of
their discursive detection.
In advocating a discursive ontology, Harré takes as his central assump-
tion that ‘Conversation is to be thought of as creating a social world just as
causality generates a physical one’.5
The first stage in the argument tries ‘to show that what people have
called ‘selves’ are, by and large, produced discursively, that is in dialogue...
Selves are not entities’.6 This means more than a rejection of Cartesian
‘mind stuff’ because it constitutes a denial, strictly speaking, of any private
life of the mind. Our seemingly private mental lives of dilemma, delibera-
tion and determination, of curiosity, creativity and contrition, and of
anguish, awe and amendment, lose their privacy. With it, they lose the abil-
ity to make us (something of) what we are in public. Instead, there ‘is no
necessary shadow world of mental activity behind discourse in which one
is working things out in private’.7
The word ‘I’ merely displays mastery of the first-person pronoun which
indexes one’s spatial location and expresses moral responsibility for the
utterances made. Instead of a robust ‘I’, there is the discursive self, the

4
The Discursive Mind, op. cit., p. 33.
5
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 65.
6
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 68.
7
The Discursive Mind, op. cit., p. 27.
THE CONCEPT OF THE PERSON AS THE GIFT OF SOCIETY 315

meaning of whose symbol use is a function only of usage in discourse.


Thus, there is no sense in which a psychological subject or agent has a
nature which can be defined in isolation from a conversational context. We
become a socio-spatial location, such that ‘the study of the mind is a way of
understanding the phenomena that arise when different sociocultural dis-
courses are integrated within an identifiable human individual situated in
relation to those discourses’.8 The term ‘ethogenics’ has been coined for the
study of human behaviour in its environment, construed as a normative
one made up of the rules and conventions which constitute genres of dis-
course. Thus, via Wittgenstein, mental activity loses its ‘inner’ impenetra-
bility and comes out into daylight as public discursive practices – framed
within and governed by informal rules.
In this wholesale replacement of causal properties by rule-following,
Harré’s basic claim is that discursive activities are involved in a moral
order. This is summarised in the following quotation.
Discursive activities are always subject to standards of correctness
and incorrectness. These standards can be expressed in terms of
rules. Therefore a discursive practice is the use of a sign system, for
which there are norms of right and wrong use...The use of the word
‘I’ in English is a discursive practice. One of its many roles is in the
act of taking responsibility by a speaker for what he or she says and
to what he or she is committed by the saying of it. According to the
discursive point of view, in this and similar discursive practices of
reflexive talk, I constitute myself as a self, as an embodied moral
unit in the world. By using the indexical world ‘I’, I create my moral
individuality for you or anyone else whom I might address.9
What might seem to us to be the private lives of our minds are, in fact,
internalized from the public moral order. This is because Harré’s is ‘an ontol-
ogy in which utterances, interpreted as speech-acts, become the primary
entities in which minds become personalised, as privatised discourses’.10 It
is important to note here that it is not only the contents of our minds which
are socially derivative (we think no thoughts which are not dependent upon
public discourse). In addition, the form of private thought itself derives from
the moral order (our epistemology is confined to the internalised conversa-
tion of society and we have no other means of access to knowledge). Thus,

8
The Discursive Mind, op. cit., p. 22.
9
The Discursive Mind, op. cit., p. 28-9.
10
The Discursive Mind, op. cit., p. 36.
316 MARGARET S. ARCHER

Harré argues that the ‘structure of the discourses in which psychological


phenomena, such as remembering, displays of emotions, avowals of atti-
tudes, attributions of causality and responsibility, and so on, are created
under the control of conventions of right and wrong performances’.11
By making us intrinsically part of the public discursive order, Harré has
succeeded in eliminating those ‘inner entities’ which to him share the dubiety
of ‘mental substances’. Instead, all has been brought to the surface because
there is nothing other than the conversation of humanity – what might seem
to us to be personal and idiosyncratic is derivative from private forms.
Harré is advancing a two factor theory. At the individual level, the only
powerful particular is the ‘person’ and at the social level it is the ‘discourse’.
His present paper fills in the gaps between the two. To Harré, there are only
two entities in question, bodies whose basic particulars are molecular clus-
ters and discursive resources, or meanings, which are common to the social
group. Between molecules and meanings there is nothing – no inner states,
no mental attributes and no personal psychology.
There are only persons as powerful particulars and persons have no
inner psychological complexity. Indeed, our very ‘personal singularity is a
product of social processes, while the very attributes that characterise the
seeming ‘free standing’ person are through and through relational’12 – a cat-
egory which includes memory, intentionality, beliefs, rationality and emo-
tions, which are all created through public discourse. Were it to be object-
ed that many of these predicates apply to pre-linguistic children or indeed
to other animate species, the response would be that for humans the key to
understanding the transformation of these natural potentials into devel-
oped powers involves taking part in society’s conversation.13
Yet many of us would resist the notion that our singularity as individu-
als reduces to our social specification. In short, most people believe them-
selves to be or to have ‘a self’. To Harré, our common feeling of our dis-
tinctiveness is not misplaced, but we are grossly mistaken if we think we
possess selfhood. The ‘singularity we each feel ourselves to be, is not an
entity. Rather it is a site, a site from which a person perceives the world and
a place from which to act. There are only persons. Selves are grammatical
fictions, necessary characteristics of person-oriented discourses’.14

11
The Discursive Mind, op. cit., p. 36. (My italics).
12
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 70.
13
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 127.
14
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 3-4.
THE CONCEPT OF THE PERSON AS THE GIFT OF SOCIETY 317

Because of our embodiment, we occupy a special location which gives


us a particular point of view. However, this position in time and space
exhausts our singularity. Persons then are not like things but like places.15
The social construction of selfhood is simply a co-ordination of the embod-
ied point of view (site) with grammatical devices, the most important of
which is mastery of the pronoun system. Site plus syntax together give rise
to the fiction of being ‘a self’. However, ‘I’ does not designate an entity but,
rather, indexes a location such as ‘39N 77’W’ (the co-ordinates for
Washington). Beyond that, ‘I’ does not refer to an individuated speaker who
talks from their private inner being. It merely labels a speech-act as mine,
which carries with it responsibilities within the public moral order. Indeed,
the only meaning of ‘inner’ which Harré will entertain is the literal one of
‘inside the skin’. What it can never be is a metaphor for ‘the private’, which
has been disposed of through its dependence upon ‘the public’.
In place of concepts that stand for inner properties, Harré’s conceptu-
alisation claims to have ‘condensed this ocean into a drop of grammar’.16
‘Person’ then is the only genuine substantive term designating a real entity.
Unsurprisingly, Harré aligns himself with Hume who, when he looked
‘inward’, could never detect his own self but only an array of memories and
experiences. The self that was sought proved unavailable to private intro-
spection. To Harré, the reason was quite simply that there was nothing
there to find. The alleged properties of the Cartesian ego amount to no
more than the grammatical rules for using the word ‘I’, rules which belong
to the public and not to the private domain.
Nevertheless, many of us will feel unease about this emptying process
which leaves nothing (of us) between the molecules and the meanings.
There is only our bodily constitution and the stories we tell autobiographi-
cally – courtesy of the public linguistic medium. Most of us continue to har-
bour the notion that we have a sense of self and that its continuous nature
is what distinguishes me from you. Some of us will maintain that the self
that eluded Hume’s introspection was precisely the self which was doing
the searching. In Personal Being this common intuition is taken very seri-
ously. However the ‘self’, or the sense of selfhood, is not allowed to be an
entity or a stratum because personhood remains firmly unstratified. So
what can a ‘sense of self’ be, such that it does not traduce this proposition

15
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 61.
16
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 178.
318 MARGARET S. ARCHER

and does not challenge the sole ontological level of ‘persons’? The answer is
‘a theory’ – one which we obtain from society.
Thus, ‘while ‘person’ is an empirical concept which distinguishes beings
in a public-collective realm, ‘self’...is a theoretical concept acquired in the
course of social interactions’.17 We learn it by being taught it but this theo-
ry, acquired by all normal people, has the same ontological status as that
which Harré accords to scientific theories in general – the stories which sci-
entists tell one another. He suggests ‘that ‘I’, the first person pronoun, does
have a referential force to a hypothetical entity ‘the self’, in much the same
way that the gravitational term g refers to a hypothetical entity, the gravi-
tational field’. In other words, we can acquire this theory, the holding of
which can do organisational work for us, but he does not conceded the exis-
tence of a real stratum constituted by our ‘selves’ because the ‘self’ remains
a theoretical construct.
‘The self as a theory appropriated from society’s conversation’ has far
reaching implications, some of them moral ones. Harré has the tough-
minded honesty to confine ‘personhood’ to those capable of such appropri-
ation, of mastering society’s pronominal system. It is restricted to those
who can speak: the pre – and alinguistic represent empty spaces. This
derives directly from Harré’s bold assertion that the ‘fundamental human
reality is a conversation’18 – and nothing else.

HUMANITY AND SOCIETY’S CONVERSATION

Harré coined a motto for his work – ‘Nothing in the mind that was not
first in the conversation’.19 In elaborating this statement that all we are as
human beings is a gift of society, his argument has three stages. Firstly, he
posits the priority of language in human thought and action; secondly, he
maintains that all mental activities and attributes are derivative from con-
versation and, thirdly, that our private reflections are parasitic upon public
discourse. In conjunction, they lead to the conclusion that ‘ the minds of
individuals are privatised practices condensing like fog out of the public
conversation onto material nuclei, their bodies’.20

17
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 26.
18
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 20.
19
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 116.
20
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 50.
THE CONCEPT OF THE PERSON AS THE GIFT OF SOCIETY 319

The starting point is explicitly Wittgensteinian, namely it ‘is based on


the assumption of the priority of language use over all other forms of
human cognition’.21 This then becomes a straightforward doctrine of social
construction. Harré asserts the ‘essential linguistic basis for all human
practices’.22 Because of this, he moves on to explain both the degree of uni-
versality that characterises human beings as language users and also the
extent of human diversity that derives from their using different languages.
As he puts it, ‘a large chunk of what it is to be a person comes with learn-
ing the local language’.23 Thus, (embodiment apart) we are what we are
through the affordances of language and we are who we are through theo-
ries of the self which are linguistic in origin. Harré’s project is nothing short
of a complete reorientation of psychology because he insists upon ‘attribut-
ing the properties of mental-predicate ascriptions and avowals to the cul-
ture, not to minds’.24
Whereas traditional psychology was based on what has been termed the
‘faculty model’25 (i.e. that people are bundles of faculties, such as memory,
attitudes, cognition, feelings etc.), Harré reverses the sequence and next
argues how each of these is produced under the aegis of society’s conversa-
tion. This is a new psychological paradigm, in which
not only are the acts which we as individuals perform and the inter-
pretations we create of the social and physical world prefigured in
collective actions and social representations, but also that the very
structure of our minds (and perhaps the fact that we have minds at
all) is drawn from those social representations.26
What is radical here is not only the large claim that our minds are cul-
turally dependent, but also (i) that the reality of the world is deemed to be
mediated through the cultural conversation rather than ever impinging
upon us directly, and (ii) that it is only in a discursive environment that
consciousness comes into existence. I have questioned both (i) and (ii) in
detail elsewhere.27

21
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 21.
22
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 18.
23
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 29.
24
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 1.
25
See Norbert Wiley, The Semiotic Self, Polity Press, Oxford, 1994, Ch. 1.
26
Personal Being, op. cit., p. 20.
27
Margaret S. Archer, Being Human: The Problem of Agency, Cambridge University
Press, 2000.
320 MARGARET S. ARCHER

Let us simply note what a very large list of attributes, once deemed mat-
ters of personal psychology, are now held to be discursively dependent:
intentionality, rationality, emotionality, the activities of reporting and
recounting and the bundle of skills including intelligence. The display of any
proto-skill takes place in the public domain, where it is subject to commen-
tary and correction according to the moral order. Only after repeated adjust-
ment to convention does the skill become part of an acceptable and thus
fixed repertoire. Skills are construed as displays which earn a public encore
or, at least, encouragement in the form of conversational correction. The
implication is that without an encore, the proto-display falls into desuetude
– deselected through discursive socialization. This, of course, is an account
of the processes responsible for the persistence of a proto-skill and its devel-
opment into an acknowledged skill. It is not an account of its genesis, which
is not explained and thus leaves rather a large question mark.
Since it is impossible to examine the full gamut of ‘attributes’ with
which Harré deals, let us glance at one – memory – which is held to be ‘a
cognitive/discursive skill and not a native endowment’.28 The old model of
the memory ‘tool’, operating in conjunction with experience (such as recen-
cy, frequency and intensity) to generate recall (or failure to recall), is
replaced by social constructionism. Attention shifts to how people repre-
sent their pasts in discussion and construct versions of past events in con-
versation. For example, take a memorial interchange between mother and
child over an old photo of the two of them and note how dialogically the
parent marks the significance of the pictured event (happy, familiar etc.).
The mother also cues the child’s recall by supplying appropriate descrip-
tions, provides contextual couching for reminiscences (one of many
episodes) and positively sanctions the moral right to the recollection.
I think there are difficulties with this account. The example of a child-
hood photograph contains elements independent of the social constructions
which significant others try to put upon it. Many of us find that our child-
hood memories are sieved through the photographs available, simply
because these visual recordings are there (and assure us that we did indeed
ride a donkey on the sands when we were about three). They and tend to be
looked at periodically until they can outweigh or overlay all the un-snapped
moments (of flying a kite at the same age). Equally, the photos supply their
own context pictorially and independent of commentary. We often go

28
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 143.
THE CONCEPT OF THE PERSON AS THE GIFT OF SOCIETY 321

through the albums alone and, whatever accounts we have been given, the
visual evidence can still leave us thinking that, contrary to what we had been
told, the house seemed rather small and father less than athletic.
The full brunt of the social constructionist account of memory is turned
against Locke, who made our continuous sense of self dependent upon our
embodiment and memories. Harré changes the basis of this continuity into
one of narrative. ‘My life is not a sequence of historical events but a story
which I tell myself and which is forever being updated and revised’.29 Above
all, since ‘one’s life is lived and told with others, autobiographical story-
telling, like all forms of memory work, is essentially social, produced dia-
logically’.30 It seems to me that this omits the artistic license we (con-
sciously) give ourselves when recollecting in public (to aggrandise or to be
self-depreciating). Often we catch ourselves in the act of embellishing on
‘the facts’ (and to Harré who does this catching and against what?).
Moreover, without any objective anchorage in ‘what happened’, our recol-
lections become fantasies and all of our biographies become open to revi-
sion by the social group.
My main reservations about Harré’s presentation of memory/autobiog-
raphy as a social construct hang upon our having private thoughts and pri-
vate lives. These latter are, of course, firmly repudiated by him. Public con-
versation and private thoughts form a continuous web. From ‘a discursive
point of view the private experience of a human being is shaped and
ordered in learning to speak and write...This was Vygotsky’s great insight.
That ordering is expressed in language and other intentional, norm gov-
erned practices. This was Wittgenstein’s great insight’.31 In brief, what he
takes from both is that inter-subjectivity has primacy over, and is prior to,
intra-subjectivity. In his Vygotskyan developmental account, the private is
always posterior to the public because the private derives from internalisa-
tion of the public. Through symbiosis, the carer supplements the deficient
efforts of the child by treating it as if it had the full complement of skills.
Only thanks to this partnership is the child (aged about three) able to begin
to develop the capacity for private discourse. This is, therefore, a secondary
ability as are the powers of self-expression and self-reflexivity. Thus reflex-
ive practices like self-criticism and self-exhortation simply borrow from

29
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 138.
30
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 146.
31
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 42.
322 MARGARET S. ARCHER

society’s conversation about criticism, exhortation etc. This loss of reflexiv-


ity ‘proper’ seems to deprive society of its fund of creativity, which even
Mead – as one of the most ‘over-socialised’ of theorists – sought to preserve
through his spontaneous ‘I’.

CONCLUSION

The loss seems to go further. Not only are ‘my thoughts’ permutations
upon society’s conversation, but my reflexive deliberations about society are
also restricted by it. This is in the important sense that ‘I’ am disallowed any
‘direct’ experiences of other parts of reality – nature, practice or the tran-
scendental – which can make me other than I am and also what I want to
be and try to be within society. This conclusion seems to follow ineluctably
from the fact that experience is held to be secondary to society’s conversa-
tion: ‘discourses of self play the role of a grammar, the rules that make a dis-
course of persons possible. They are not the result of abstractions from
experience. They are what make experience, as we have it, possible’.32
Conversely, a more robust concept of the self would allow that a person
has become something of what she is through her (unmediated) experi-
ences of reality: through interacting with nature (as in teaching oneself to
swim), through developing practical skills (a solo mountaineer learning
hand and footholds) and through experiencing transcendence (as in soli-
tary contemplative prayer). She will also have become something of a dif-
ferent person in the process, in ways that have not depended upon a detour
through society’s conversation. Moreover, if any of the above experiences
come to feature among her ‘ultimate concerns’, they will have served to
shape her personal identity. In turn, how she reflexively reacts to face-to-
face encounters and the ‘positionings’ others attempt to assign her will also
be different. All of her actions and attitudes, including the reasons she gives
for her acceptances, rejections or variations upon the ‘positionings’ prof-
fered to her, will not be explicable within the confines of the small group
itself – or even within ‘society’ at all.

32
The Singular Self, op. cit., p. 72.
WHAT MAKES US TICK?
INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON

JON ELSTER

The set of human motivations is a pie that can be sliced any number of
ways. Although none of them can claim canonical status, there are three
approaches that I have found illuminating. The first suggests a continuum of
motivations, while the second and the third each offers a trichotomy of moti-
vations. The three classifications are both roughly similar and interestingly
different, allowing us to illuminate the same behaviors from different angles.
On September 11 2001, some people jumped to their death from the
World Trade Center because of the overwhelming heat. ‘This should not be
really thought of as a choice’, said Louis Garcia, New York City’s chief fire
marshal. ‘If you put people at a window and introduce that kind of heat,
there’s a good chance most people would feel compelled to jump’. There was
no real alternative. Subjectively, this may also be the experience of those
who drink sea water when freshwater is unavailable. They may know that
drinking even a little seawater starts you down a dangerous road: The more
you drink, the thirstier you get. Yet the temptation may, for some, be irre-
sistible. The craving for addictive substances may also be experienced in this
way. An eighteenth century writer, Benjamin Rush, offered a dramatic illus-
tration: ‘When strongly urged, by one of his friends, to leave off drinking [an
habitual drunkard] said, “Were a keg of rum in one corner of a room, and
were a cannon constantly discharging balls between me and it, I could not
refrain from passing before that cannon, in order to get at the rum”’. As the
recent adventures of an American President show, sexual desire may also be
so overwhelming as to crowd out more prudential concerns. Some emotions
may also be so strong as to crowd out all other considerations. The feeling
of shame, for instance, can be unbearably painful, as shown by the suicide
of a Navy admiral who was about to be exposed as not entitled to some of
the medals he was wearing, or by the six suicides in 1997 among Frenchmen
who were exposed as consumers of pedophiliac material.
324 JON ELSTER

Except perhaps for the urge to jump from the World Trade Center, it is
doubtful whether any of these desires was literally irresistible, in the way a
boulder rolling down a hillside might be irresistible to a person trying to
stop it in its course. Addicts are somewhat sensible to costs: they consume
less when prices go up.1 People in lifeboats sometimes succeed in prevent-
ing each other from drinking seawater. Other high officials with the same
urges and opportunities have been able to resist sexual temptation. The
urge to kill oneself in shame is certainly resistible. Because of their intensi-
ty, these visceral cravings nevertheless stand at one extreme of the spectrum
of human motivations. They have the potential, not always realized, for
blocking deliberation, tradeoffs and even choice.
At the other extreme, we have the paradigm of rational choice. Rational
agents are unperturbed by visceral factors, including emotion. They act
only after carefully – but only as carefully as is desirable under the circum-
stances – weighing against one another the consequences of each available
option. In doing so, they take account of their intrinsic value, their likeli-
hood of occurrence and their distribution over time, and choose the one
that appears best overall. The motivation of rational agents is disembodied,
in the sense that their decision-making process might be faithfully repre-
sented by a computer program. The only affective element in the process is
that of assigning values to outcomes.
Between the extremes of this visceral-rational continuum, we find
behaviors that are partly motivated by visceral factors, yet are also some-
what sensitive to cost-benefit considerations. A man may seek revenge (a
visceral desire), yet also bide his time until he can catch his enemy
unawares (a prudential concern). If he challenges his enemy to a duel (as
required by norms of honor), he may take fencing lessons in secret (a dis-
honorable but useful practice). If a person is made an offer that is both
unfair and advantageous, in the sense that he would be better off taking it
than not, he might accept it or reject it depending on the strength of his
interest vs the strength of his resentment. In more complex cases, one vis-
ceral factor might counteract another. The desire for an extramarital sexu-
al affair might be neutralized by guilt feelings. An urge to flee generated by
fear may be offset or preempted by an urge to fight caused by anger.
In their analysis of human motivations, the 17th century French moral-
ists made a fruitful distinction among interest, reason and passion. Interest

1
That might also be, however, because their budget does not allow them to consume
at the same level.
WHAT MAKES US TICK? INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON 325

is the pursuit of personal advantage, be it money, fame, power, or salvation.


Even action to help our children counts as the pursuit of interest, since our
fate is so closely bound up with theirs. A parent sending his children to an
expensive private school where they can get the best education, is not sac-
rificing his interest but pursuing it.
The passions may be taken to include emotions as well as other viscer-
al urges, such as hunger, thirst, and sexual or addictive cravings. The
ancient also included states of madness within the same general category
because, like emotions, they are involuntary and unbidden.
Reason is a more complicated idea. The moralists mostly used it (as I
shall use it here) about the desire to promote the public good rather than pri-
vate ends. Occasionally, they also used it to refer to long-term (prudential)
motivations as distinct from short-term (myopic) concerns. Both ideas may
be summarized under the heading of impartiality. In designing public policy,
one should treat individuals impartially rather than favoring some groups or
individuals over others. Individuals, too, may act on this motivation. Parents
may sacrifice their interest by sending their children to a public school,
because they believe in equality of opportunity. At the same time, policy mak-
ers as well as private individuals ought to treat outcomes occurring at suc-
cessive times in an impartial manner by giving each of them the same weight
in current decision-making, rather than privileging outcomes in the near
future. In fact, some moralists argued, individuals concerned with their long-
term interest will also tend to promote the public good. At the Federal
Convention in Philadelphia, for instance, George Mason argued that
We ought to attend to the rights of every class of people. He had often
wondered at the indifference of the superior classes of society to this
dictate of humanity & policy, considering that however affluent their
circumstances, or elevated their situations, might be, the course of a
few years, not only might but certainly would distribute their poste-
riority through the lowest classes of Society. Every selfish motive
therefore, every family attachment, ought to recommend such as sys-
tem of policy as would provide no less carefully for the rights and
happiness of the lowest than of the highest orders of Citizens.
Either form of impartiality comes in degrees. Even other-regarding
individuals usually do more to promote the welfare of their family mem-
bers than to promote that of unrelated individuals.2 Often, the strength of

2
At the same time, they may adopt an impartial attitude by acknowledging the right
of unrelated individuals to give priority to their family members.
326 JON ELSTER

concern for others varies inversely not only with genealogical distance, but
with geographical remoteness. Similarly, even prudent individuals usually
give somewhat more weight to the near future than to the more remote, a
fact that can only partly be explained by their knowledge that they might
not live to enjoy the distant future.
As an example of how behavior may be understood in terms of any of
these three motivations, we may cite a 1783 letter from the New York
Chancellor Robert Livingston to Alexander Hamilton in which he com-
ments on the persecution of those who had sided with the British during
the wars of independence:
I seriously lament with you, the violent spirit of persecution which
prevails here and dread its consequences upon the wealth, com-
merce & future tranquillity of the state. I am the more hurt at it
because it appears to me almost unmixed with purer patriotic
motives. In some few it is a blind spirit of revenge & resentment, but
in more it is the most sordid interest.
The phrases I have italicized correspond to reason, emotion and inter-
est, respectively. The adjectives are telling: reason is pure, passion is blind,
interest is sordid. I return to some implications of these assessments.
Some motivations may be refractory to this trichotomy. Today, historians
believe that the eight French wars of religion in the 16th century originated
in the refusal of the Protestants to accept the doctrine of the transsubstanti-
ation rather than, as has traditionally been argued, in their reaction to the
widespread abuses in the Church. Because they believed in the absolute tran-
scendence of God, they claimed that the idea of Jesus Christ as ‘really pres-
ent’ in the bread and the wine in the Eucharist was a form of idolatry. A log-
ical extension was to the idea that images and statutes representing religious
figures were also ‘idols’ that had to be destroyed. The Catholics reacted with
extreme violence to what they perceived as an intolerable insult to God and
his saints. It took forty years of civil war for the ensuing passions to calm
down enough for a durable peace to be possible. Yet although passions (as
well as interest) have an important role in explaining the dynamics of the
wars, the origins of the conflict are more difficult to grasp. Explanations in
terms of ‘religious fervor’ or ‘religious anxiety’ are often opaque.3

3
For instance, it is not clear why anxiety that one was not doing enough to ensure
one’s salvation should be more intense than the anxiety generated by the belief that there
was nothing one could do to ensure salvation. Yet Calvinist believers in predestination
apparently felt that the latter belief provided a greater peace of mind.
WHAT MAKES US TICK? INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON 327

In his analyses of human motivations, Freud also suggested three basic


forms, each of them linked to a separate subsystem of the mind. The three
systems are the id, the ego, and the superego, corresponding respectively to
the Pleasure Principle, the Reality Principle, and Conscience. The id and the
superego represent respectively impulses and impulse control, while the ego,
‘helpless in both directions [...] defends itself vainly, alike against the insti-
gations of the murderous id and against the reproaches of the punishing
conscience’. In a more illuminating statement from the same essay (‘The
Ego and the Id’), Freud wrote that the ego is ‘a poor creature owing service
to three masters and consequently menaced by three dangers: from the
external world, from the libido of the id, and from the severity of the super-
ego’. Yet even this formulation does not capture fully what I think is the use-
ful core of Freud’s idea. This is the proposition that as the ego is navigating
the external world (the Reality Principle) it also has to fight a two-front war
against the impulses coming from the id (Pleasure Principle) and the puni-
tively severe impulse control exercised by the superego (Conscience).4
This proposition was original, profound and true. What it lacks, is a
mechanism. Why could not the ego itself exercise whatever impulse control
might be needed? Why do morality and conscience so often take the form
of rigid rules? Do we need to stipulate the existence of separate and quasi-
autonomous mental functions? It took the pioneering work of George
Ainslie to provide satisfactory answers to these questions. His point of
departure is that many impulses need to be kept in bay because of the
cumulative damage they can do if unchecked.5 On any given occasion,
drinking or eating to excess, splurging or procrastinating (such as a failure
to do one’s homework) need not do much harm to the agent. The damage
occurs after repeated excesses (or repeated failures). The focus of impulse
control, therefore, must not be the individual occasion, since the person
can always say to himself or herself that a new and better life will begin
tomorrow. Impulse control must address the fact that the impulse will pre-
dictably arise on an indefinite number of occasions. The solution arises
from reframing the problem, so that failure to control an impulse on any

4
To combine two of Freud’s metaphors, the ego is like a rider on an unruly horse
(the id) while also being ridden by an incubus (the superego).
5
There is also a fact of cumulative risk. The chance of unwanted consequences from
unprotected sex may be small on any given occasion, but the lifetime risk might be con-
siderable. On any given occasion, the chance of being injured in a car accident while not
wearing a seatbelt is small, but the life-time probability is about one in three.
328 JON ELSTER

one occasion is seen as a predictor of failure to control it on all later occa-


sions. ‘Yes, I can postpone impulse control until tomorrow without incur-
ring important harm or risk, but why should tomorrow be different from
today? If I fail now, I shall fail tomorrow as well’. By setting up an internal
domino effect and thus raising the stakes, the agent can acquire a motiva-
tion to control his impulses that would be lacking if he just took one day at
a time. The other side of the coin is that the control must be relentless and,
as the Victorian moralists put it, ‘never suffer a single exception’.
These three approaches to motivation capture some of the same phe-
nomena. Visceral factors, passions and the Pleasure Principle clearly have
much in common. The last applies to a wider range of cases, because it
involves pain avoidance as well as pleasure seeking. When students procras-
tinate in doing their home work, it is not necessarily because there is some-
thing else they very much want to do. Often, they are merely taking the path
of least resistance. The superego and reason also have some features in com-
mon. Although not all systems of morality are rigid and relentless, some are.
Kant’s moral theory is a notorious instance. In fact, his moral philosophy may
have originated in the private rules he made for himself to control his impuls-
es, such as his maxim of never smoking more than one pipe after breakfast.6
At the same time, morality can rise above rigidity, in individuals not subject
to ambiguity aversion. The toleration of ambiguity is, in fact, often said to be
the hallmark of a healthy ego. By contrast, the relation among rationality,
interest, and the ego is more tenuous. It would be absurd to claim that the
hallmark of a healthy ego is the rational pursuit of self-interest.
We often think of motivations as taking the form of wanting to do some-
thing. They may also, however, take the form of wishing something to be
the case.7 This distinction between wants and wishes is important if we look

6
The rule was not unambiguous enough, however, to give him full protection, since
as time passed he bought himself bigger and bigger pipes. Similarly, people who make a
rule of not drinking before dinner may find themselves having dinner at ever earlier
hours. The only rule that is invulnerable to such manipulation is ‘Never do it’.
7
If I wish something to be the case, there are three reasons why I may not want to
bring it about. It may be unfeasible, as when I wish I were Napoleon. It may be feasible
but outside my control, as when I wish that my love were requited. It may be within my
control but I do not want to exercise it, as when I wish for my rival to lose his posses-
sions yet do not want to be the person whose agency brings about that outcome. I am
not saying that wishes cannot have any causal effects. When conjoined with other men-
tal states, notably beliefs, they may induce cognitive dissonance and subsequent disso-
nance-reducing adjustments.
WHAT MAKES US TICK? INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON 329

at the motivational component of emotion. Emotions can, in fact, be


accompanied either by a want to do something or by a wish that something
be the case. In anger or wrath, A’s urge to take revenge on B cannot be sat-
isfied by C doing to B what A had planned to do or by B suffering an acci-
dent. What matters is not simply the outcome, that B suffer, but that he suf-
fer by A’s agency. In sadism, too, what matters is to make the other suffer,
not merely that he suffer. By contrast, in hatred what matters is that the
hated person or group disappear from the face of the earth, whether this
happens by my agency or by someone else’s. In malice, too, what matters is
that the other suffer, not that I make him suffer. In fact, a malicious person
may recoil before actively taking steps to make the other suffer, not merely
because he is afraid of being seen to do so but because it would be incom-
patible with his self-image. This is even clearer in envy. Many people who
would enjoy seeing a rival losing his possessions and would do nothing to
prevent it from happening if they could, would never take active steps to
destroy them, even if it could be done without costs or risks to themselves.8
A person who would not set his neighbor’s house on fire might abstain from
calling the fire brigade if he saw it burning.
A motivation to get something also differs from the motivation to do
something to get it. In standard choice theory, people care directly about
outcomes and only indirectly about actions. Preferences over outcomes
induce preferences over actions: I prefer doing A rather than B if and only
if doing A will get me X and I prefer X to Y, which is what I will get if I do
B. If I got X without doing anything to get it, I would be just as well off as
if I got X by doing A. In fact, since actions usually involve some cost or at
least expenditure of effort, I’d probably be better off. This way of looking at
the relation between behavior and outcomes is clearly right in many cases.
If I suddenly discover a turkey in my freezer, I won’t miss the trip I’d
planned to the supermarket to buy one. Yet sometimes the value of getting
something is conditioned upon agency. Addicts know that a drug will pro-
duce a more intense high when it is self-administered than when it is inject-
ed by someone else.9 As suggested by the proverb ‘Easy come, easy go’ – and

8
Some envious people, to be sure, have no such qualms. They may live in a society
where little shame attaches to envy or they may just be shameless.
9
Their reports are confirmed by experiments on rats in which level of brain reward
can be measured directly. These findings show that the volitional centers and the pleas-
ure centers of the brain are connected.
330 JON ELSTER

by the behavior of gamblers – windfall gains do not have the same weight
as earned income.10
In some cases doing I can get X by doing A, but only if I do A in order
to get Y. If I work hard to explain the neurophysiological basis of emotion
and succeed, I may earn a high reputation. If I throw myself into work for
a political cause, I may discover at the end of the process that I have also
acquired ‘a character’. If play the piano well, I may impress others. These
indirect benefits are parasitic on the main goal of the activity. If my moti-
vation as a scholar is to earn a reputation, I’m less likely to earn one. To
enter a political movement solely for the sake of the consciousness-raising
or character-building effects on oneself is doomed to fail, or will succeed
only by accident. If I think about the impression I’m making on others
while I’m playing, I’ll play less well and fail to impress them. Self-con-
sciousness interferes with the performance.
These cases fall in the category of states that are essentially by-products
– states that cannot be realized by actions motivated only by the desire to
realize them. These are states that may come about, but not be brought
about intentionally by a simple decision. These self-defeating motivations
include the desire to forget, the desire to believe, the desire to desire (e.g.
the desire to overcome sexual impotence), the desire to sleep, the desire to
laugh (one cannot tickle oneself), and the desire to overcome stuttering.
Attempts to realize these desires are likely to be ineffectual and can even
make things worse. It’s a commonplace among moralists that intentional
hedonism is self-defeating, and that nothing engraves an experience so
deeply in memory as the attempt to forget it. Although we may wish for
these states to be realized, we should beware of wanting to realize them.
Many people care about salvation (in the afterlife) and redemption (for
wrongs they have done). They may also believe they can achieve these goals
by action. To die the death of a martyr in the fight against the infidels may
provide the passport to heaven, or so some believe. To fight against the
Nazis after having collaborated with them at an earlier stage may redeem
the wrongdoing. Yet if these actions are undertaken for the purpose of
achieving salvation or redemption, they may fail. In Catholic theology, the
intention to buy a place in heaven by voluntary martyrdom would be an

10
Leibniz said (correctly) that it would be absurd to assert that a man was richer
the longer he had worked to build up his fortune. Yet it may be true that the longer he
has worked to build it up, the longer he will retain it.
WHAT MAKES US TICK? INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON 331

instance of the sin of simony. Some Islamic scholars make a similar criti-
cism of suicide attackers who are motivated by the belief that they will get
a privileged place in paradise. On moral grounds, the French press magnate
who had collaborated with the German forces during the occupation of
France and tried to redeem himself by writing a large check to the resist-
ance when it became clear that the Germans were losing the war, should
not have been granted, as he was, a nonsuit after Liberation.11
We can distinguish between intrinsic and instrumental motivations for
action. Often, people read books or watch movies because they enjoy it, not
because these activities are a means to some other end. Parents might, how-
ever, try to motivate children to read by offering them a reward if they come
up with corrects answers to five questions about a book they have been
given. They would hope, presumably, that the children would ‘get hooked’
on reading and that their motivation would change from an instrumental
to an intrinsic one, so that when the reward is taken away the children will
keep reading at the same higher level. There is some evidence, however, that
the opposite effect might be produced. A child might by himself or herself
read 5 hours a week, then read 10 hours when rewarded for doing so, but
fall back to 3 hours when the reward is removed. Although this phenome-
non is indeed observed, its interpretation is controversial. The lower post-
reward reading might be due to disappointment or to resentment rather
than to an instrumental motivation crowding out an intrinsic one.
A related but different distinction is that between consequentialist and
non-consequentialist motives for action. A policy maker might adopt the
principle ‘Finders keepers’ (e.g. in patent legislation), on the assumption
that if the person who discovers a new valuable resources is assigned the
property right in it, more valuable resources will be discovered. This is a
consequentialist argument. A non-consequentialist argument for the same
policy might be that the person who discovers a new resource, whether it
be a piece of land or a cure for cancer, has a natural right to property in it.
For another contrast, consider two injunctions to act. The statement
‘always wear black in strong sunshine’ (as do people in Mediterranean
countries to maintain circulation of air between the clothes and the body),
appeals to a consequentialist motive. The statement ‘always wear black at
funerals’ reflects a non-consequentialist social norm.

11
The reason he went free was probably that the resistance needed the money and
later found itself obliged to keep the implicit promise of immunity that acceptance of the
check implied.
332 JON ELSTER

Why do people leave one country for another? Why do academics leave
one university for another? Often, answers are classified as ‘push versus
pull’. One may emigrate either because the situation at home is unbearable
or because the situation abroad is irresistibly enticing. At least this is a
common way of viewing the matter. In many situations, however, it is mis-
leading. Typically, people move because they compare the situation at home
and abroad and find that the difference is big enough to justify a move, even
taking account of the costs of the move itself.12 Yet it can make sense to dis-
tinguish push-motives from pull-motives, when the former are closer to the
visceral end of the continuum and the latter closer to the rational end.
People in the grip of strong fear sometimes run away from danger rather
than towards safety. The only thought in their mind is to get away, and they
do not pause to think whether they might be going from the frying pan into
the fire. Depending on the drug and on the circumstances, addicts can be
motivated either by the pull from euphoria (cocaine) or by the push from
dysphoria (heroine). Suicidal behavior, too, may owe more to push than to
pull. It is escape from despair, not a flight to anything.
The operation of social norms can also be viewed in terms of push ver-
sus pull. The desire to excel in socially approved ways exercises a strong
pull on many individuals, whether they strive for glory (being the best) or
for honor (winning in a competition or combat). Other individuals are
more concerned with avoiding the shame attached to the violation of
social norms. In some societies, there is a general norm that says ‘Don’t
stick your neck out’. To excel in anything is to deviate, which is the object
of universal disapproval. ‘who does he take himself for?’ The relative
strength of these two motivations varies across and within societies.
Classical Athens illustrates the competitive striving for excellence.13 In
modern societies, small towns often show the stifling effects of the hos-
tility to excellence. To risk a generalization, overall the push from shame
is a more important motivation than the pull towards excellence, which
is not to say that the latter cannot be powerful.

12
This formulation presupposes that the costs of moving enters on a par with the
benefits of having moved, as determinants of the overall utility of moving. Yet the costs
of moving may also enter as constraints on the decisions. If the cheapest transatlantic
fare costs more than the maximal amount a poor Italian peasant can save and borrow,
he will remain in Italy no matter how much better he could do for himself in the US.
13
Aeschylus, for instance, wrote his plays for performance at a dramatic competi-
tion. When he was defeated by the young Sophocles, he was so chagrined that he left
Athens for Sicily.
WHAT MAKES US TICK? INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON 333

The existence of competing motivations is commonplace:


In a divorce situation, I want custody of the children, but I also want
the house and the car.
I need a book so strongly that I am tempted to steal it from the
library, but I also want to behave morally.
In the face of a bully I am both afraid and angry: I want to run but
also to hit him.
I want all children to have public education, but I also want my
child to go a private school to obtain the best education.
I want a candidate who is pro-choice, but I also want one who
favors lower taxes.
I want to smoke, but also to remain healthy.
If I am made an advantageous but unfair offer, ‘take it or leave it’, I
want both to reject it because it’s unfair and accept it because it’s
advantageous.
I want to donate to charity, but also to promote my own interest.
How is the conflict among these motivations resolved? A general
answer might go as follows. Where the situation is one of ‘winner take all’,
so that no compromise is possible, the strongest motivation wins. If my
concern for my child is stronger than my concern for the schooling of chil-
dren in general, I will send him or her to a private school. Since my pro-
choice concern is stronger than my tax-cut concerns and no candidate
favors both positions, I vote for a pro-life candidate who proposes to raise
taxes. If somebody offers me 3 dollars out of a common pool of 10, intend-
ing to keep the rest for himself, I accept it. If I am offered only 2 dollars, I
reject the offer if I can thereby prevent the other from getting anything.
When compromise is possible, the stronger motivation has a stronger
impact than the smaller one. A smoker may decide to cut down his cigarette
consumption from 30 to 10 cigarettes a day. As a reflection of the strength
of my altruism, I may decide to spend 5% of my income on charity.
This answer is not exactly wrong, but it is pretty simplistic, since the
idea of ‘strength of motivation’ is more complicated than these quick exam-
ples suggest. A motivation may owe its strength to its sheer psychic force;
this is the sense in which for instance visceral motives are often stronger
than what Madison called ‘the mild voice of reason’. A strong motivation
334 JON ELSTER

may also, however, be one that the agent endorses strongly. Each society or
culture is characterized by a normative hierarchy of motivations. Other
things being equal, a person would rather perform a given action for motive
A than for motive B if A ranks higher in the hierarchy. These are meta-moti-
vations, desires to be animated by desires of a certain kind.14
Interest and passion, notably, often show a certain deference to reason.15
As Seneca said, ‘Reason wishes the decision that it gives to be just; anger
wishes to have the decision which it has given seem the just decision’. As
there are very many plausible-sounding conceptions of reason, justice and
fairness, it will indeed often be possible to present a decision taken in anger
as conforming to reason. The trials of collaborators in countries that had
been occupied by Germany during World War II were in many cases
anchored in a deep desire for revenge. Yet because of their deference to rea-
son, combined with their desire to demarcate themselves from the lawless
practices of the occupying regimes, the new leaders presented the severe
measures as justice-based rather than emotion-based. A person may have a
first-order interest in not donating to charity and a second-order interest in
not seeing himself as swayed by interest. In deference to reason, he may
then adopt the philosophy of charity that can justify small donations: if oth-
ers give much he will adopt a utilitarian policy that justifies small dona-
tions, and if others give little he will adopt a fairness-based policy that jus-
tifies the same behavior.16

14
The idea of meta-motivations is unrelated to the concept of meta-preferences. An
example of the latter would be a person with two different preference orderings, one for eat-
ing over dieting and one for dieting over eating, and a meta-preference favoring the latter.
Following La Bruyère’s insight that ‘Men are very vain, and of all things hate to be thought
so’, a meta-motivation could amount to a preference for preferring dieting over eating on
grounds of health over having the same preference ordering on grounds of vanity.
15
Agents may also show a deference to rationality. We want to have reasons – desires
and beliefs in light of which the action appears as rational – for what we do. In fact, our
desire to act for a reason – our deference to rationality – can be so strong as to induce
irrational behavior. When two options appear to be equally good, we may spend time
and resources determining the one that is slightly better rather than simply flipping a
coin. A dramatic illustration is how the use of the ‘best interest of the child’ principle in
awarding child custody may work against the interest of the child, because of the emo-
tional suffering induced by protracted litigation.
16
I assume that these are unconscious adaptations, whose existence can be inferred
only from their results. For a given individual, we would need evidence of consistent
opportunism across many decisions to justify the inference. To infer self-serving adap-
tation from the fact that one impartial argument matches the interest of the agent would
be to commit the functionalist fallacy of assuming that consequences of behavior that
benefit an agent always serve to explain that behavior.
WHAT MAKES US TICK? INTEREST, PASSION AND REASON 335

In these cases, reason has no independent causal role. It only induces


an after-the-fact justification for actions already decided on other grounds.
The conflict is not resolved, but swept under the carpet. In other cases, the
adoption of a reason-based justification may change behavior. If I adopt a
fairness-based policy of charity because others give little and they then
begin donating much more generously than before, I have to follow suit.
The same need for self-esteem that caused me to justify self-interested
behavior by impartial considerations in the first place also prevents me
from changing my conception of impartiality when it no longer works in
my favor. We may imagine that in King Lear both Burgundy and France ini-
tially fell in love with Cordelia because of her prospects, but that only the
former cared so little about his self-image that he was able to shed the emo-
tion when it no longer coincided with his interest. This is a case of interest
paying deference to passion rather than to reason, suggesting that passion,
or rather this particular passion, ranks above interest in the normative hier-
archy. Other passions, such as envy, might well rank below interest. We
might then observe efforts to present envy-based action as interest-based or,
rather, to undertake only such envy-based action as may be plausibly pre-
sented as interest-based.
Here’s a more complex case. I wish that I didn’t wish that I didn’t want
to eat cream cake. I want to eat cream cake because I like it. I wish that I
didn’t like it, because, as a moderately vain person, I think it is more impor-
tant to remain slim. But I wish I were less vain. But is that wish activated
only when I want to eat cream cake? In the conflict among my desire for
cream cake, my desire to be slim and my desire not to be vain, the first and
the last can form an alliance and gang up (or sneak up) on the second. If
they catch me unawares they may succeed, but if I understand that the
salience of my desire not be vain is caused by the desire for cake I may be
able to resist them.
Here is another complex case of motivational conflict. Let us assume
that a person is tempted to steal a book from the library. If he feels guilty
about doing it, he may abstain. If he steels the book and then feels guilt, he
may return the book to the library. Suppose that the agent is initially unwill-
ing to steal the book, but that as its value to him increases (for some rea-
son) he finally decides to do so. Suppose conversely that the agent has
stolen the book, but that as its value to others increases (for some reason)
he finally returns it to the library. In the first case, its value to others is 10
and he decides to steal it just when its value to him reaches 15. In the sec-
ond case, its initial value to him is 15 and the initial value to others is 6, but
336 JON ELSTER

he decides to return it only when its value to others reaches 15 (rather than
10). The reason for this asymmetry is found in the mechanism of disso-
nance reduction. A individual who is subject to several motivations that
point in different directions will feel an unpleasant feeling of tension. When
on balance he favors one action, he will try to reduce the tension by look-
ing for cognitions that support it; when he favors another, he will look for
cognitions which stack the balance of arguments in favor of that action.
The strength of each motive is ‘path-dependent’ rather than fixed.
COMMENT ON JON ELSTER’S PAPER

PAULUS ZULU

I must begin by stating that I found Elster’s paper very difficult to pull
together, perhaps mainly because its simple language and illustrations belie
the complexity of his thinking. Elster offers us two explanations of or
approaches to understanding human behaviour or action. Common to both
approaches is the concept of human motivations. Human beings act or
behave because they are motivated to do so, and two interrelated explana-
tions account for this. The first is that human motivations exist in a con-
tinuum stating from visceral impulses at one extreme to rational behaviour
‘unperturbed by visceral factors’ on the other. However, even within this
domain of impulses, Elster posits that:
There are instances where impulses as a trigger to human action
may overshadow any other considerations:
There are instances, especially in complex cases, where visceral fac-
tors or impulses might counteract one another and
There is a relativity in the intensity or strengths of impulses to the
costs envisaged in pursuing the acts they determine, and in such
instances a costs-benefits analysis mediates between impulses or
visceral factors and the behaviour to be pursued.
Rational choice on the other hand, is governed by factors such as the
weight of each behavioural action under consideration (costs, the energy to
be expended and consequences anticipated), consistency i.e. the likelihood
of repeating the same behaviour over time and the intrinsic value of such
behaviour.
Finally, between the extremes in the visceral – rational continuum there
are actions that are motivated partly by visceral factors and partly sensitive
to rational factors or to the costs – benefits analysis.
The second approach, still operating within the domain of motivation,
is that human behaviour or action can best be understood from the opera-
338 PAULUS ZULU

tions of three precursors or determinants. These are interest, passion and


reason corresponding to the Freudian ego, the id and the superego. The
superego, corresponding to reason, checks the impulses of the id. The id,
which corresponds to passion, instigates or triggers action; and the ego,
which corresponds to interest, negotiates between the two.
From these two approaches, it is apparent that Elster’s thesis of human
behaviour offers a post behavioural explanation or analysis whereupon we
may explain the behaviour or action from motives but not necessarily predict
its course or finality. We can tell what motivated the behaviour in question
post facto, but not predict, from the parameters, what the behaviour will be.
We can not, for instance, tell with certainty which of the parameters will be
in operation at a given time although given the circumstances and perhaps
the temperament of the individual, we can predict the probability of a spe-
cific course of action from a range of possible alternatives. This takes us into
the domain of culture and I shall comment on this in the sections below.
There are three definitive propositions in Elster’s paper. The first is that
human behaviour is motivated by forces or drives which operate within stat-
ed parameters. Although these parameters are stated they do not operate in
a straight forward mode as they have shades of meanings giving rise to dif-
ferent types of action. Take, for instance, the destination between wanting
and wishing both which fall within the domain of emotions. In the former the
subject is engaged in direct action while in the latter the subject is interested
in the outcome and may not do anything to bring it about. The same prob-
lematic exists in the categorisation of intrinsic and instrumental motivation
for action. As predictive tools they present enormous problems in analysis.
The second proposition is that these parameters operate within social-
ly constructed values which give rise to social norms and standards. It is
these norms and standards that determine, influence or shape the way in
which the stated parameters or determinants express themselves. For
instance, given the same interests, individuals from different cultures will
express themselves differently on the same issue. Freely expressing cultures
will allow members of the masculine sex to weep openly in instances of
bereavement whereas stoic cultures reserve this expression to members of
the fairer sex. Some African cultures permit levirate i.e. taking over a dead
brothers wife and find the practice rational on the grounds that it keeps the
lineage intact whilst Christian cultures define the practice as incest. We
can, however, not tell with certainty if the widow will accept advances from
the late husbands’ brother or if he will develop an interest in her.
The question of values, which are functions or products of a culture ads
yet another complicated dimension to the equation. Given a number of pos-
COMMNET ON JON ELSTER’S PAPER 339

sible values we are not certain of a specific value operating at a given time.
In the example of taking over a dead brothers’ wife values such as economic
considerations, emotional feelings towards the widow, fear of competition,
on the past of the widow should the brother in law be married and vice-
versa may influence the ensuing action or behaviour. We would have to find
out, from the subjects themselves, what influenced their behaviour.
Predicting it would present great difficulties. Elster’s thesis becomes more
ambiguous to apply both as a predictive and as an explanatory instrument
or framework as the behaviour becomes more complicated and the alter-
natives also become complex. There are instances when both motives and
cultural (normative or ethical) considerations weigh equally on the decision
to act or not to act in a practical way. The domino effect as a factor in
impulse control is a case in point. Individuals may refrain from the expect-
ed action both from the eternal domino effect and from moral considera-
tions. This renders the thesis ambiguous. For instance, probable modifica-
tions such as Kant’s bigger pipes or bringing dinner forward in order to
drink earlier are such examples of behavioural modifications which may be
interpreted as a negation of the thesis on the one hand and yet fall within
the visceral desire, prudential concern domain on the other. Whatever the
label, the ambiguity is not easy to resolve.
The third proposition is that the relationship between motives and
action is not linear. The movement is not directly from motive to action, but
may entail other alternatives including digressions, retreats and even a
change of action. This is a phenomenon which Elster resolves by the state-
ment the ‘interest and passion’, notably often show a certain deference to
reason. This deference may be expressed by ‘sweeping the conflict under
the carpet’ or by modifying the behaviour or action originally envisaged, or
by complete withdrawal.
In conclusion Elster offers very interesting framework for explaining
behaviour but not necessarily a theory of human behaviour. The critique
that I have presented is not a criticism of his framework as a theory of
human behaviour. He did not venture it as that in the first instance. The cri-
tique is, therefore, an attempt to demonstrate problems in the efforts made
at explaining and predicting human behaviour as the variables involved are
too many and too complex at any given time.
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION
IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS

JOHN SHOTTER

How does it happen that I give to my hands, in particular, that


degree, that rate, and that direction of movement that are capable of
making me feel the textures of the sleek and the rough? Between the
exploration and what it will teach me, between my movements and
what I touch, there must exist some relationship by principle, some
kinship, according to which they are... the initiation to and the open-
ing upon a tactile world... Through this crisscrossing within [my
hand] of the touching and the tangible, its own movements incorpo-
rate themselves into the universe they interrogate... [and] the ‘touch-
ing subject’ passes over to the rank of the touched, descends into the
things, such that the touch is formed in the midst of the world and
as it were in the things (Merleau-Ponty, 1968, pp. 133-134).

I.
INTRODUCTION

For the past 15 years or so, although I was originally trained in aca-
demic Psychology, I have been a Professor of Interpersonal Relations in a
Department of Communication. Thus primarily, what I want to discuss
with you today is the concept of the person as it arises for us out of the sea
of everyday living interactions within which we live our lives, along with all
the others (and othernesses) around us. A while ago (Shotter, 1984), I called
my approach to social inquiry ‘social ecology’, and that is what I want to
return to here today. So, instead of people as self-contained entities to be
characterized by their possession of a particular set of properties, I shall be
setting out a characterization in terms of their embedding in a set of
dynamic, always changing relations to their surroundings – hence, my title.
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 341

Central to the work I want to present to you, will be the philosophical


and theoretical work of Wittgenstein, Vygotsky, Bakhtin and Voloshinov,
G.H. Mead, William James, H-G Gadamer, along with many others. While
they all emphasize different aspects of our embedding in what I am calling
‘the sea of living interactions’ within which we live our lives, one way or
another; they all also, it seems to me, emphasize the primacy of our spon-
taneous, living, bodily activity as it unfolds within the active, expressive-
responsive relations we have to the others and othernesses around us – and
it is our immersion in this ‘sea’, and the resources it provides for us, as well
as the limitations it imposes upon us, that I also want to emphasize.
This ‘immersed’ way of being in the world contrasts starkly with that
assumed in recent forms of modernist inquiry in the Human and Behavioral
Sciences influenced, for instance, by Kant and Descartes (along with other
modern philosophers), who all emphasized the central role of our deliber-
ately intended activities as self-contained individuals in our knowledge-seek-
ing activities. For instance, we find Kant (1970) claiming that:
Reason has insight only into that which it produces after a plan of
its own, and it must not allow itself to be kept, as it were, in nature’s
leading-strings, but must show itself the way with principles of judg-
ment based upon fixed laws, constraining nature to give answer to
questions of reason’s own determining (p. 20).
Where Kant’s stance here, clearly, follows on from that of Descartes
(1968), who, in his Discourse on the Method of Properly Conducting one’s
Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences of 1637, celebrated his proposed
‘geometric’ methods of inquiry as aimed at our becoming, ‘as it were, mas-
ters and possessors of Nature’ (p. 78).
In this view, the important processes of reason occur inside the heads
of individuals and have the character of ‘inner symbolic representations’ of
outer states of affairs – where our outer states of affairs are thought of as
occurring merely in the empty and neutral space and time of the physicists.
And we still far too often accept that the ‘background realities’ to our
actions must take the form given them by Descartes (1968) long ago. In
deciding to speak only of what he could clearly conceive, you will recollect
that he resolved to speak ‘only of what would happen in a new world, if God
were to create, somewhere in imaginary space, enough matter to compose
it, and if he were to agitate diversely and confusedly the different parts of
this matter, so that he created a chaos as disordered as the poets could ever
imagine, and afterwards did no more than to lend his usual preserving
action to nature, and to let her act according to his established laws’ (p. 62).
342 JOHN SHOTTER

Such a reality of neutral particles in motion is, of course, unrestrictedly


open to our mastery and possession, to our every manipulation.
However, if we emphasize the primacy of our spontaneous, living, bod-
ily activities as they unfold spontaneously in responsive relation to the
activities of the others and othernesses around us, rather than a neutral
space and time, filled with neutral particles in lawful motion, we find our-
selves always embedded in, as I have called them elsewhere (Shotter,
1993a), ‘conversational realities’. And within such already ongoing, dialog-
ically-structured realities, we find that what we can do deliberately is high-
ly constrained. With each utterance in a dialogue, for instance, within a cir-
cumstance that is already structured to a degree, we can only proposes a lit-
tle further structuring; we can only intend a next action to the extent that it
has been made available to us as a possibility by what has happened to us
within the circumstance already.
Gadamer (2000), for instance, in describing his philosophical con-
cerns, notes his crucial focus on: ‘not what we do or what we ought
to do, but [on] what happens to us over and above our wanting and
doing’ (p. xxviii). Hence, for Gadamer (2000), in contrast to the cen-
tral role of willful activity depicted in Descartes’s and Kant’s philos-
ophy above, our relation to our circumstances is quite different: ‘We
say “we” conduct a conversation, but the more genuine a conversa-
tion is, the less its conduct lies within the will of either partner...
Rather, it is generally more correct to say that we fall into conver-
sation, or even that we become involved in it... the partners con-
versing are far less the leaders of it than the led. No one knows in
advance what will “come out” of a conversation... All this shows that
a conversation has a spirit of its own, and that the language in
which it is conducted bears its own truth within it – i.e., that it
allows something to “emerge” which henceforth exists’ (p. 383).
Wittgenstein (1980a), similarly remarks that: ‘The origin and primi-
tive form of the language game is a reaction; only from this can more
complicated forms develop. Language – I want to say – is a refine-
ment, “in the beginning was the deed” [Goethe]’ (p. 31). And that by
the word ‘primitive’ here, he means that ‘this sort of behavior is pre-
linguistic: that a language-game is based on it, that it is the prototype
of a way of thinking and not the result of thought’ (1981, no. 541).
While Bakhtin (1986) notes that: ‘All real and integral understand-
ing is actively responsive... And the speaker himself is oriented pre-
cisely toward such an actively responsive understanding. He does
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 343

not expect passive understanding that, so to speak, only duplicates


his or her own idea in someone else’s mind. Rather, he expects
response, agreement, sympathy, objection, execution, and so forth...’
(p. 69). Thus, among the other features of such spontaneously
responsive talk, is its orientation toward the future: ‘The word in liv-
ing conversation is directly, blatantly, oriented toward a future
answer-word; it provokes an answer, anticipates it and structures
itself in the answer’s direction. Forming itself in an atmosphere of
the already spoken, the word is at the same time determined by that
which has not yet been said but which is needed and in fact antici-
pated by the answering word. Such is the situation of any living dia-
logue’ (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 280, my emphasis).
Mead (1934) too outlines the influence of such a process within the
single individual: ‘That process... of responding to one’s self as
another responds to it, taking part in one’s own conversation with
others, being aware of what one is saying and using that awareness
of what one is saying to determine what one is going to say there-
after – that is a process with which we are all familiar... We are find-
ing out what we are going to say, what we are going to do, by say-
ing and doing, and in the process we are continually controlling the
process itself. In the conversation of gestures what we say calls out
a certain response in another that in turn changes our own action,
so that we shift from what we started to do because of the reply the
other makes. The conversation of gestures is the beginning of com-
munication’ (pp. 140-141).
These remarks, by these four writers, set the scene for the dialogical,
‘prospective1 concept of the person’ I want to outline below – dialogical,
because ‘I’ can be ‘me’ only in dialogical relation to ‘you’; and prospective,

1
I have taken the notion of ‘prospective concepts’ from Myhill (1952). In his view,
‘beauty’ is just such a concept. For, ‘not only can we not guarantee to recognize it [beauty]
when we encounter it, [for it is not, in Myhill’s terms an “effective” concept], but also that
there exists no formula or attitude, such as that which for example the romantics believed,
which can be counted upon, even in a hypothetical, infinitely protracted lifetime, to create
all the beauty that there is [for it is not a “constructive” concept either]’ (p. 191). In other
words, prospective concepts are concepts that cannot be arrived at by any known rational
methods or procedures. Hence the value that Myhill attaches to the ‘crystal clarity’
imposed by mathematic logic on our thought processes, for ‘it was here that we first had
conclusive evidence of an essential rather than an accidental limitation on knowledge, and
of the fact that this ignorance is but the obverse of creativity’ (p. 192).
344 JOHN SHOTTER

because as living, growing, and developing beings, able both to accumulate


and to embody a shared (and sharable) cultural history, there is no end to
what we as persons are and can be.
In other words, the concept of the person that I what to discuss, is a
concept of people as being themselves dialogically open to further explo-
ration and development of themselves (along with the others around them),
and of their concept of themselves as being dialogically open to..., and so on,
and so on; as well as of them as being open also to an exploration as to why
some of the changes they may seek to make to themselves are more prefer-
able than others.

II.
SEVEN THEMES

In leading up to what I now think should be the primary focus of our


inquiries in our attempts to understand our own nature – that is, a focus on
our meetings with the others and othernesses around us – there are seven
introductory comments I want to make:
1) The first is that, in discussing the changes we might promote within
ourselves, we must learn, I think, to talk about something which in fact,
strangely, quite unfamiliar to us in the context of modern western thought,
and which – if we are to do justice to its detailed characteristics and rela-
tionships – requires us to make some quite radical changes in our current
modes of intellectual inquiry, as well as in the whole nature of our social
relations with each other. The new topic that I want to confront us with, is
simply that of ‘life’, the properties, the characteristics or aspects of living
bodies, as enduring, self-maintaining, self-structurizing, self-reproducing,
organic structures. For we seem to be rather badly served by the vocabu-
laries currently available to us for describing the many different kinds of
transitional forms occurring within such continually changing structures
and relations. As William James (1967) noted: ‘We live, as it were, upon the
front edge of an advancing wave-crest, and our sense of a determinate direc-
tion in falling forward is all we cover of the future in our path... Our experi-
ence, inter alia, is of variations of rate and direction, and lives in these tran-
sitions more than in the journey’s end’ (p. 206, my emphasis).
2) Such structures change internally by growth and differentiation into
more internally complex forms, while at the same time retaining their iden-
tity as the identifiable individuals they are. In other words, in all living
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 345

activities, there is always a kind of developmental continuity involved in


their unfolding, such that earlier phases of the activity are indicative of at
least the style, the physiognomy, of what is to come later. All changes ‘ges-
ture’ or ‘point’ beyond themselves in either an indicative or mimetic way.
3) Thus, the earlier phases of a living activity are indicative of at least
the style of what is to come later – thus we can respond to their activities in
an anticipatory fashion. Indeed, just as acorns can only grow into oak trees
and not rose bushes, and eggs produce only chickens and not rabbits, so all
living activities, it seems, give rise to what we might call identity preserving
changes or deformations – as T.S. Eliot puts it: ‘In my beginning is my end’.
By contrast, the dead Cartesian world, a world of mechanical movement, a
world of forces and impacts, can only give rise to movements as a change
in the spatial configuration of a set of separately existing parts.
4) In other words, instead of changes of a quantitative and repeatable
kind, ordinary changes, changes taking place within a reality already well-
known to us, we must become concerned with unique, only ‘once-occurrent
events of Being’, as Bakhtin (1993, p. 2) calls them, first-time, irreversible
changes of a qualitative kind. As living changes, these are irreversible, devel-
opmental changes, changes making something possible that was before
impossible. Thus living movement, living change taking place in time, con-
fronts us, with some quite new phenomena, needing some quite different
concepts, if we are not simply to assimilate it to Cartesian forms of change,
i.e., change simply as a re-arrangement, as a re-configuration, in a basic set
of unchanging ‘particles’. But in no way can the earlier phases of merely
‘configurational’ changes be indicative of the style of what is to come.
Against a Cartesian background, such living changes – to the extent that
they are not according to a law or principle but dependent on circum-
stances – can strike us as changes of an unpredictable kind, as changes that
can strike us with wonder or amazement, as extraordinary changes.
5) This leads me on to a fifth comment: which is, that even the most
complex of mechanical systems are constructed piece by piece from objec-
tive parts; that is, from parts which retain their character unchanged irre-
spective of whether they are parts of the system or not. In other words, they
are constructed from externally related parts. But whole people as natural
systems are certainly not constructed piece by piece. On the contrary, they
grow, and in growing, they develop from simple individuals into richly
structured ones in such a way that their ‘parts’ at any one moment in time
owe not just their character but their very existence both to one another
and to their relations with the ‘parts’ of the system at some earlier point in
346 JOHN SHOTTER

time – their history is just as important as their logic in their growth.2 In


other words, they consist in internally related parts.
6) My sixth comment connects with those I have already mentioned
above, it is to do with our taking into account what is already ‘there’, so to
speak, in the background of our lives together, what it is in our surround-
ing circumstances that makes such developmental changes possible.
Here, I am particularly concerned to counter claims made by many who
currently call themselves social constructionists – who take it that people
communicate with each other in purely linguistic terms, seen in a struc-
turalist (Saussure, 1911) or post-structuralist light (Derrida, 1977) – and
who suggest, like Richard Rorty (1989), for instance, that because ‘there is
nothing “beneath” socialization or prior to history which is definatory of
the human being’ (p. xiii), all the shared (or sharable) bases to our lives
together can be deconstructed ‘all the way down’. That is, they argue,
because all claims in favor a shared ‘ground of being’ are nothing more than
persuasive rhetorical constructions, they can be opposed by other, equally
persuasive constructions.
It is the seemingly radically shocking nature of this claim that has, I
think, stood in the way of seeing the need for the more corporeally orient-
ed developments that I would like to propose here. It has, I feel, stood in the
way because it is nowhere near a radical enough claim! For such structu-
alist and post-structuralist views of human communication – as working in
terms of a self-contained ‘linguistic system’ – leave Descartes’s account of
our background reality – as ‘a chaos as disordered as the poets could ever
imagine’ – in place. And this means, of course, that we cannot draw any
shared guidance from our shared backgrounds in our controversies with
each other as which of each other’s claims to adopt for the best. No wonder

2
Because of this it is impossible to picture the life of living systems in spatial dia-
grams. As Capek (1965) remarks, ‘any spatial symbol contemplated at a given moment is
completed, i.e., all its parts are given at once, simultaneously, in contrast with the temporal
reality which by its very nature is incomplete and whose “parts” – if we are justified in using
such a thoroughly inadequate term – are by definition successive, i.e., nonsimultaneous.
The spatial symbolism leads us to forget the essential difference between juxtaposition and
succession and to reduce the differences between the past, present, and future to simple
differences of position: “past” events are symbolized by positions lying to the left of the
point representing the “present”, while “future” events lie to the right of the same point on
the same already drawn “temporal axis”. Thus the spatial diagram suggests the wrong idea
that the successive moments already coexist and that their pastness and futurity is not gen-
uine, but only “phenomenal” or “apparent”’ (pp. 162-163).
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 347

it provokes anger and diverts attention to what is important in social


thought about the nature of human communication.
7) This leads me on to my final introductory comment, which is that I
do not want to argue (in opposition to Rorty) that there is in fact already
something definite ‘there’ in us, as individual beings in the world that, prior
to any of the meetings we may have with the others and othernesses around
us, that defines and delimits the nature of those meetings. Instead, what I
want to claim, is that something very special happens when living bodies
interact with their surroundings that we have not (explicitly) taken account
of at all in our current forms of thought or institutional practices.
Everything of importance to us as psychologists occurs within the context
of living meetings, occasions when one form of life comes into contact with
an other or otherness different from itself. The resulting relations have –
not just a dialogically-structured character, as I once thought (Shotter,
1980, 1984, 1993) – but a chiasmic structure (Merleau-Ponty, 1968). What
this means, is tremendously difficult to articulate, and a part of what I want
to try to do below, is simply to draw out further the implications of this
notion of chiasmically organized relations.

III.

MEETINGS AS JOINT, CHIASMICALLY STRUCTURED ACTIONS

Sometimes, something very special can occur on those occasions when


two or more of us approach each other bodily, face-to-face, and engage in
a meeting, in a joint action or dialogically-structured encounter. For in such
encounters, when someone acts, their activity cannot be accounted as
wholly their own activity – for a person’s actions are partly ‘shaped’ by being
responsive to the actions of the others around them. This is where all the
strangeness of the dialogical begins (‘joint action’ – Shotter, 1980, 1984,
1993a and b). For our joint actions, in being neither mine nor yours, are
truly ‘ours’.
Hence, such activity is not simply action (for it is not done by individu-
als; and cannot be explained by giving people’s reasons). Nor is it simply
behavior (to be explained as a regularity in terms of its causal principles). It
constitutes a distinct, third sphere of transitional activity with its own dis-
tinctive properties, always on the way toward what it not-yet-will-be.
This third sphere of activity involves a special kind of nonrepresenta-
tional, sensuous or embodied form of practical-moral (Bernstein, 1983)
understanding, which, in being constitutive of people’s social and personal
348 JOHN SHOTTER

identities, is prior to and determines all the other ways of knowing avail-
able to us. Indeed, what is produced in such dialogical exchanges is a very
complex ‘orchestration’ of not wholly reconcilable influences – as Bakhtin
(1981) remarks, it includes both ‘centripetal’ tendencies inward toward
order and unity at the center, as well as ‘centrifugal’ ones outward toward
diversity and difference on the borders or margins. In being transitional,
activities in this sphere lack specificity; they are only partially determined;
they complex ‘intertwining’ of many different kinds of influences:
– They are just as much material as mental; constituted just as much by
feeling as by thought, and by thought as feeling.
Their intertwined, complex nature makes it very difficult for us to char-
acterize their nature:
– They have neither a fully orderly nor a fully disorderly structure, nei-
ther a completely stable nor an easily changed organization, neither a fully
subjective nor fully objective character.
– They are also distributed or non-locatable – rather than ‘in’ individu-
als, they are ‘spread out’ among all those participating in them.
– They are neither ‘inside’ people, but nor are they ‘outside’ them; they
are located in that space where inside and outside are one.
– They are neither wholly agentic in shaping their surroundings, nor are
they wholly shaped by them – rather than having ‘masterful’ agency, we can
say that they have ‘participatory’ agency.
– Nor is there in their transitions a succession with a separate ‘before’
and a separate ‘after’ (Bergson), but only a meaningful, developing whole
which cannot divide itself into separable parts either in space or in time.
– But, nonetheless, as living activities, they can still have a ‘style’ and
‘point’ beyond themselves toward both events in their surroundings, and
what can possibly come next for them in the future.
Wittgenstein (1981) describes the nature of our meetings well, I feel,
when he says:
How could human behavior be described? Surely only by sketching the
actions of a variety of humans, as they are all mixed up together. What
determines our judgment, our concepts and reactions, is not what one man
is doing now, an individual action, but the whole hurly-burly of human
actions, the background against which we see an action (no. 567)... (see
also 1980b, II, no. 629).
Indeed, it is precisely their lack of any pre-determined order, and thus
their openness to being specified or determined by those involved in them,
in practice – while usually remaining quite unaware of having done so! –
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 349

that is the central defining feature of the ‘realities’ whose characterizations


or formulations we create in our meetings with each other. And it is pre-
cisely this that makes this sphere of activity interesting... for at least the two
following reasons:
1) to do with the practical investigations we can conduct into how peo-
ple actually do manage to ‘work things out’ between themselves, and the part
played by the ways of talking we interweave into the many different spheres
of practical activity occurring between us which enable such ‘workings out’.
But also 2) for how we might refine and elaborate these spheres of activ-
ity, and how we might extend them into novel spheres as yet unknown to us.

IV.
CHIASMIC (INTERTWINED) RELATIONS

As I indicted above, my claim here today is that everything of impor-


tance to us in our lives together occurs in meetings of one kind or another.
Something very special occurs when two or more living beings meet and
begin to expressively-respond to each other (more happens than them mere-
ly having an impact on one another). There is in such meetings the creation
of qualitatively new, quite novel and distinct forms of life, which are more
than merely averaged or mixed versions of those already existing. As I inti-
mated above, elsewhere (Shotter, 1980, 1984) I have discussed this under
the heading of ‘joint action’, and more recently (Shotter, 1993 a&b) as ‘dia-
logically-structured’ activity, but here, following Merleau-Ponty (1968), I
want to go a step further and talk of it as ‘chiasmically-structured’ activity.
My aim in doing this, is to try to begin to understand how the living
actions of the others around us can ‘enter into’ our actions at crucial
moments, not simply to change their shape or form, but to enrich our abil-
ities to relate ourselves to our circumstances in such a way as to help us
increase, so to speak, the depth of our relations to our surroundings. In say-
ing this, of course, I am calling on – as Merleau-Ponty does also – the most
immediately obvious example of chiasmic interweaving available to us in
our binocular vision: for it is the chaismic interweaving of our visual relat-
ing to our surroundings through our two eyes, gave rise to the presence of
depth in our looking.3 In a moment, I want to turn to the discussion of how

3
We can also note that Bateson (1979), in Mind and Nature, makes the same point:
‘From this elaborate arrangement [of the intertwining in the optic chiasma of two slightly
350 JOHN SHOTTER

we can be influenced by other people’s voices, but for the moment, let us
stay with our visual relations to our surroundings.
Straightaway, we can note that, even with something as simple as look-
ing over a visual scene, a picture, a painting, a sculpture, an art object of
any kind, say, different styles of looking are available to us. There are dif-
ferent bodily ways of moving our eyes over the scene, and of ‘orchestrating’
into these ways, other bodily movements – we can move up closer to the
painting or further away, adopt a new angle, pause for a moment to make
a comparison (in fact or from memory), we can stop to ask a friend’s opin-
ion or to recall a text’s account, and so on, and so on. And if in these move-
ments we open ourselves to the ‘calls’ coming to us from the object as look
over it, we find ourselves not so much looking at it – as in our instrumen-
tal gazing at an object we want to manipulate – as looking according to it.
Then, over time, if I ‘dwell with’ the work of art long enough, between
it and myself, a real presence (Steiner, 1989) begins to emerge, a presence
with ‘its’ own requirements, with ‘its’ own calls, to which I – if I am to do ‘it’
justice – must ‘dwell with’ responsibly, i.e., be answerable to all the ‘calls’ it
exerts upon me.
When we ‘look over’ or ‘look with’ a picture in this way, ‘I would be at
great pains’, says Merleau-Ponty (1964a), ‘to say where is the painting I am
looking at. For I do not look at it as I look at a thing; I do not fix it in its
place. My gaze wanders in it as in the halos of Being. It is more accurate to
say that I see according to it, or with it, than that I see it’ (p.164).
Rather than looking at it, I look beyond it, or through it, to see other
things in my world in its light; it is, would could say, a guiding or directing
agency in my looking; it gives me a way of looking. Thus, as Steiner (1989)
suggests, ‘the streets of our cities are different after Balzac and Dickens.
Summer nights, notably to the south, have changed with Van Gogh (p.
164)... It is no indulgent fantasy to say that cypresses are on fire since Van
Gogh or that aqueducts wear-walking shoes after Paul Klee’ (p. 188). Or, as
Paul Klee himself remarked: ‘In a forest, I have felt many times over that it
was not I who looked at the forest. Some days I felt that the trees were look-

different sources of information], two sorts of advantage accrue. The seer is able to
improve resolution at edges and contrasts; and better able to read when the print is small
or the illumination poor. More important, information about depth is created. In more for-
mal language, the difference between the information provided by the one retina and that
provided by the other is itself information of a different logical type. From this new sort of
information, the seer adds an extra dimension to seeing’ (p. 80).
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 351

ing at me, were speaking to me... I was there listening...’ (Quoted in


Merleau-Ponty, 1964a, p. 167).
Wittgenstein (1980a) also noted the power of works of art to ‘move’ us
in this way: ‘You really could call [a work of art], not exactly the expression
of a feeling, but at least the expression of feeling, or felt expression. And you
could say too that in so far as people understand it, they resonate in har-
mony with it, respond to it. You might say: the work of art does not aim to
convey something else, just itself’ (p. 58).
But, just as paintings can ‘instruct’ us in a possible style or way of look-
ing, a possible way of relating ourselves visually to our surroundings, so can
certain pieces of text, or another’s voice, also ‘instruct’ us in different possi-
ble styles or ways of relating ourselves to our surroundings as well. Indeed,
just as we all can be spontaneously ‘moved’ by a piece of music being played
in a concert hall, to some extent at least in the same way, while listening to
its sequential unfolding over a period of time, so we can also all be ‘moved’,
to a similar shared extent, in responding sequentially to any aspect of
human expression – for, to repeat, what is at issue here is not the ‘seeing’ of
a finalized form or pattern, but the intertwining of one’s own living, bodily
responsiveness with influences from something other than ourselves to cre-
ate a ‘real presence’ between us, an influence that can instruct us in a new,
possible way of going on.4

V.
CONCLUSIONS – ‘WITHNESS’-BEING

So, what I have dwelt on above – besides all the other points I have tried
to make about the importance of our spontaneous living bodily expressive
responsiveness to the others and othernesses around us – is the importance
of our being able to adopt a certain attitude or stance toward the others and
othernesses around us: rather than trying to relate to them as something
that stands before us as a ‘puzzle’ or ‘problem’ that we must ‘solve’ if we are
to understand them aright, I have talked of entering into living, dialogically-

4
This is the way that those of you who read Wittgenstein can – if you take the appro-
priate dialogical stance or attitude to his texts – experience his voice: Not as giving us new
information which we had until then lacked, but as giving us orientation, helping find our
‘way about’ when we didn’t know ‘how to go on’, helping us in this or that practical situa-
tion to make a connection or relation we might not otherwise have made.
352 JOHN SHOTTER

structured or chaismically-structured relations with them, and of allowing


them in the course of our relations with them to teach us something utterly
novel, utterly unique, something that we could not learn in any other way.
This leads, as I intimated at the outset, to the concept of the person as
a prospective concept, that is, to it being the kind of concept that cannot be
contained within any systematic or logical framework, and which is still
open, in dialogically-structured, or better, chiasmically-structured
exchanges, to further development... of a kind still to be explored dialogi-
cally... Thus, to end in a way that I hope captures and expresses something
of what I have been trying to express above, I would like to end by con-
trasting what I will call ‘withness’-being with ‘aboutness’-being.
Withness-being (‘withness’-talking, thinking, acting, perceiving, etc.) is a
dynamic form of reflective interaction that involves our coming into living
contact with an other’s living being, with their utterances, with their bodi-
ly expressions, their words, their ‘works’. It is a meeting of outsides, of sur-
faces, of two kinds of ‘flesh’ as Merleau-Ponty (1968) puts it, such that in
coming into ‘touch’ with each other, in the dynamics of the interaction at
their surfaces, another form of life in common to all participants, is creat-
ed. All both touch and are touched, and in the relations between their out-
going touching and resultant incoming, responsive touches of the other, a
felt sense of a ‘moving’ sequence of differences emerges, a sequence with a
shaped and vectored sense to it.
In the interplay of living movements intertwining with each other, new
possibilities of relation are engendered, new interconnections are made,
new ‘shapes’ of experience emerge.
A reflective encounter of this kind is thus not simply a ‘seeing’ of
objects, for what is sensed is in fact invisible; nor is it an interpretation (a
representation), for it arises directly and immediately in one’s living
encounter with an other’s expressions; neither is it merely a feeling, for car-
ries with it as it unfolds a bodily sense of the possibilities for responsive
action in relation to one’s momentary placement, position, or orientation in
the present interaction.
In short, we can be spontaneously ‘moved’ toward specific possibilities
for action in such a way of being. And this where another person’s words in
their saying can be helpful – in entering into our inner dialogues, they can
help to orient us, help us to be responsive to what we might otherwise
ignore: ‘Look at this, notice that, think about it this way..., and so on!’
Thus, only in this kind of spontaneously responsive being, in which we
are related bodily to those around us, is it possible to be ‘in touch with’, or
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 353

‘struck by’, the uniqueness of the others and othernesses around us; and
only in this kind of being is it possible to be ‘moved by’ another’s words, and
for us to carry them ‘on our shoulder’, so to speak, to ‘remind’ us of how to
relate ourselves to the circumstances before us. As Merleau-Ponty (1964b)
puts it: ‘For more clearly (but not differently) in my experience of others
than in my experience of speech or the perceived world, I inevitable grasp
my body as a spontaneity which teaches me what I could not know in any
other way except through it’ (p. 93).
While in aboutness-being, in which we try to understand others only
cognitively, by ‘explaining’ them to ourselves in terms of a theoretical
framework, we stand over against them, and view them as if from a dis-
tance. Bakhtin (1984) calls this, taking a monological stance toward them,
and in such a stance ‘(in its extreme pure form) another person remains
wholly and merely an object of consciousness, and not another conscious-
ness... Monologue is finalized and deaf to the other’s response, does not
expect it and does not acknowledge in it any decisive force’ (p. 293).
Such a style of understanding works simply in terms of ‘pictures’, but
even when we ‘get the picture’, we still have to decide, intellectually, on a
right course of action. This in this way of being, interpretation becomes a
central issue.
And it is this style of being that has until recently dominated our aca-
demic and intellectual lives in the West. No wonder that we have come to
place theories at the center of our lives as thinkers. But if instead of ‘about-
ness’-thinking, we begin to think ‘with’ an other’s voice, with their utter-
ances, in mind, we can begin to see another very different way in which what
we call a ‘theory’ can be an influence on us. Literally, the words in which the
theorist expresses his or her theory can, by moving us this way and that,
‘instruct’ us in our practical actions out in the world of our everyday, practi-
cal affairs. Then, if we respond to their words is this way, instead of turning
away from the events of importance to us to bury ourselves in thought, in
order to think of an appropriate theoretical scheme into which to fit them in
order to respond to them, we can turn ourselves responsively toward them
immediately. Indeed, we can begin an intensive, i.e., in detail, and extensive,
exploratory interaction with them, approaching them this way and that
way... ‘moved’ to act in this way and that in accord with the beneficial
‘reminders’5 issued to us by others to us, as a result of their explorations.

5
‘The work of the philosopher consists in assembling reminders for a particular pur-
pose’ (Wittgenstein, 1953, no. 127).
354 JOHN SHOTTER

In other words, seeing with another’s words in mind can itself be a


thoughtful, feelingful, way of seeing, while thinking with another’s words in
mind can also be a feelingful, seeingful, way of thinking – a way of seeing
and thinking that brings us into a close and personal, living contact with
our surroundings, with their subtle but mattering details. And this, I think,
is how we need to relate and respond to Wittgenstein’s remarks, his utter-
ances, to the nature of the very in fact practical philosophy he has
bequeathed to us. And because so much of what I have said here to day has
been influenced by his words; and because I think, once the nature of his
philosophy is appropriately understood, its consequences are utterly revo-
lutionary; I want to end in his honor with a few of his remarks.
Because we are renouncing the Cartesian aim of being ‘masters and
possessors of nature’, and working instead merely as participants in what
we are seeking to understand; and because we already embody in all of our
spontaneous responses to events in our surroundings the beginnings of new
understandings, Wittgenstein (1953) recommends that: ‘We must let the use
of words teach you their meaning’ (p. 220). Thus in his philosophy, we are
not seeking to discover anything entirely new: ‘Philosophy [as he sees it]
simply puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces any-
thing. – Since everything lies open to view there is nothing to explain. For
what is hidden, for example, is of no interest to us. One might also give the
name “philosophy” to what is possible before all new discoveries and inven-
tions’ (no. 126). Thus, instead of seeking explanations and solutions when
we feel disquiet, he suggests another approach, for:
Disquiet in philosophy might be said to arise from looking at phi-
losophy wrongly, seeing it wrong, namely as if it were divided into
(infinite) longitudinal strips instead of into (finite) cross strips. This
inversion of our conception produces the greatest difficulty. So we
try as it were to grasp the unlimited strips and complain that it can-
not be done piecemeal. To be sure it cannot, if by a piece one means
an infinite longitudinal strip. But it may well be done, if one means
a cross-strip. – But in that case we never get to the end of our work!
– Of course not, for it has no end. (We want to replace wild conjec-
tures and explanations by the quiet weighing of linguistic facts)
(Wittgenstein, 1981, no. 447).
And if we do ‘replace wild conjectures and explanations by the quiet
weighing of linguistic facts’ – while bearing in mind the ineradicable chias-
mic relations of such linguistic facts to their surrounding circumstances –
then, as I see it, we can begin to see how, not just the concept of the person,
PERSONS: POINTS OF CONDENSATION IN A SEA OF LIVING INTERACTIONS 355

but people themselves can further develop themselves, and their relations
to each other, as a result of collaborative or dialogically-structured inquiries
of a practical kind. Indeed, much work of this kind is already underway in
the fields of psychotherapy, management studies, medical education and
doctor patient relationships, regional development, and in public dialogue
projects, as well as in many of the other practical activities that constitute
certain crucial moments in our everyday lives (see details on the website
http://pubpages.unh.edu/~jds). But detailed reference to that work is a
topic for another day.

REFERENCES

Bakhtin, M.M. (1981) The Dialogical Imagination. Edited by M. Holquist,


trans. by C. Emerson and M. Holquist. Austin, Tx: University of Texas
Press.
Bakhtin, M.M. (1986) Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Trans. by Vern
W. McGee. Austin, Tx: University of Texas Press.
Bakhtin, M.M. (1993) Toward a Philosophy of the Act, with translation and
notes by Vadim Lianpov, edited by M. Holquist. Austin, TX: University
of Texas Press.
Bateson, G. (1979) Mind in Nature: a Necessary Unity. London: E.P. Dutton.
Bernstein, R.J. (1983) Beyond Objectivism and Relativism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Derrida, J. (1976) Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Spivak. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press.
Descartes, R. (1968) Discourse on Method and Other Writings. Trans. with
introduction by F.E. Sutcliffe. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Gadamer, H-G (2000) Truth and Method, 2nd revised edition, trans J.
Weinsheimer & D.G. Marshall. New York: Continum.
James, W. (1967) A world of pure experience. In McDermott, J.J. (Ed.) The
Writings of William James – a Comprehensive Edition. New York:
Random House, pp.194-214.
Kant, I. (1970) Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith.
London: Macmillan’s St Martin’s Press.
Mead, G.H. (1934) Mind, Self and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964a) The eye and the mind. In The Primacy of
Perception and other Essays. Evanston, Il: Northwestern University Press.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964b) Signs. Evanston, Il: Northwestern University
Press.
356 JOHN SHOTTER

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968) The Visible and the Invisible. Evanston, Il:


Northwestern University Press.
Myhill, J. (1952) Some philosophical implications of mathematical logic. I.
Three classes of ideas. Review of Metaphysics, 6, pp. 165-198.
Rorty, R. (1989) Contingency, Irony and Solidarity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press.
Saussure, F. de (1959/1966) Course in General Linguistics (Eds. C. Bally and
A. Sechehaye). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Shotter, J. (1980) Action, joint action, and intentionality. M. Brenner (Ed.)
The Structure of Action. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 28-65.
Shotter, J. (1984) Social Accountability and Selfhood. Oxford: Blackwell.
Shotter, J. (1993) Conversational Realities: Constructing Life through Language.
London: Sage.
Shotter, J. (1993) Cultural Politics of Everyday Life: Social Constructionism,
Rhetoric, and Knowing of the Third Kind. Milton Keynes: Open
University Press.
Steiner, G. (1989) Real Presences. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.
Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, L. (1980a) Culture and Value, introduction by G. Von Wright,
and translated by P. Winch. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, L. (1980b) Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, vols.1&
2. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wittgenstein, L. (1981) Zettel, (2nd. Ed.), G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H.V.
Wright (Eds.). Oxford: Blackwell.